What Are Trucker Hours of Service Rules?

truck rest stop pixlr

The federal government in March expressed concern about commercial trucking safety, noting an upward trend in fatal crashes involving semi-trucks.  Just over 5,000 people were killed in truck crashes in 2019, the most recent year of finalized data.  That’s a 48% jump from 2009.

But the effects from a change in federal rules made last year – potentially putting more tied truck drivers on the road - may factor into deadly truck accidents.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration oversees the safety of large commercial vehicles, such as 18-wheelers. It is responsible for developing rules and regulations to limit catastrophic commercial truck crashes.

One example is the Hours of Service rules.  Created in 1938, these rules regulate how many hours per day and per week truckers can drive.  They include mandated rest periods.

The rules are in response to the fact that fatigued truck drivers are a recognized cause of serious tractor-trailer crashes.

Hours of Driving Limitations for Truckers

The highlights of the 2020 rules, last significantly overhauled in 2013, include:

·         Truckers cannot drive after 14 hours following the start of their workday, then must take 10 consecutive hours away from the job

·         Those 14 hours of driving include a maximum of 11 hours of consecutive driving

·         Long-haul truckers can only drive 60 hours maximum within seven days and 70 hours maximum within eight days

·         Truckers must pull off the road and rest for 30 minutes after eight consecutive hours of being on duty

Just as important, a rule adopted in 2017 requires most truckers to record these hours electronically rather than with the traditional paper logs, which are easy to manipulate.

Required Rest Period for Over-the-Road Truck Drivers

After the rules were proposed, the FMCSA revisited the Hours of Service rules under pressure from the trucking industry.  This time the agency changed a few of the elements more favorably toward commercial trucking companies and drivers.  The revisions include:

·         Truckers can extend the 11-hours of maximum driving time by two hours when faced with adverse driving conditions

·         Truckers still must rest 30 minutes, but now after eight consecutive hours of driving rather than eight hours after their workday began

Adverse truck driving conditions under these new rules include factors such as:

·         Snow

·         Ice

·         Fog

·         Sleet

·         Unusual traffic back-ups

While these Hours of Service revisions appear to water down some of the provisions, not all trucking concerns were happy.  The International Brotherhood of Teamsters joined a number of safety advocates in fighting them, saying they only make the dangers of tired truckers even greater.

The efforts to oppose the new rules were unsuccessful and the revisions went into effect September 29, 2020.

If you were seriously injured or had a family die in a crash caused by a big rig, speak with a truck accident attorney about pursuing just compensation from those responsible.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Blog May 27, 2021


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