Why 18-Wheeler Drivers Must Follow Federal Hours of Service Regulations

Commercial truck drivers are responsible for transporting various types of cargo over many miles within their state, within a particular region of the U.S. or completely across the country, and they are expected to do so in a timely manner. Unfortunately, 18-wheeler drivers often stay behind the wheel for inordinate amounts of time to maintain their delivery schedule. This does more harm than good, however, as it causes fatigue.

If a big rig driver is fatigued, drowsy, or sleepy while driving, they will have decreased alertness, in addition to poor physical and mental performance. They will experience slower reaction times, may have difficulty staying in one lane, and may navigate turns poorly. A driver who cannot control an 80,000 pound truck because they cannot stay awake is a danger to every motorist on the road, including themselves, which is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) requires property-carrying commercial drivers to comply with Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations.

Although December 2010 brought proposed changes to HOS rules, the current basic HOS regulations remain as follows:

  • A truck operator may not drive after having been on duty for 14 consecutive hours. Only after 10 consecutive hours off-duty may a truck operator drive again. Driving is limited to the 14-hour on-duty period even if a driver takes off-duty time during that time. (Proposed change requires a release from duty after 14 consecutive hours on-duty)
  • A truck operator may drive a maximum of 11 hours total during the 14-consecutive-hour on-duty period and may not drive again until after 10 consecutive off-duty hours. (Proposed changes considering both 10 and 11 hours as the maximum allowable driving hours)
  • In addition to the aforementioned regualtions, a truck operator is required to abide by a “weekly” limit. The operator may not drive after 60 or70 hours on-duty in 7 or 8 consecutive days, respectively. A driver may “restart” a new 60 or 70 period by taking at least 34 off-duty hours consecutively. (Proposed change sets a once weekly limit to restarts and requires restarts to include two periods between midnight and 6 a.m.)

HOS regulations are in place to ensure that commercial motor-vehicles are operated safely. At Carpenter, Zukerman & Rowley, our experienced Los Angeles trucking accident attorneys can help the victims of fatigued truck driver accidents pursue compensation for their losses. Our lawyers have the skills and resources necessary to obtain successful case results and have, in fact, already obtained over $100 million on behalf of clients who have suffered as the result of another’s negligence. To learn more about resolving your truck accident case, call us at 213-514-8332 for a free consultation.