Learn more about the Hours of Service regulations truckers must follow to limit drowsy and exhausted driving. Violations could help prove your injury claim.

Promoting Rest to Discourage the Drowsy Truck Driving

Many truck drivers are forced to travel extremely long distances in relatively short periods of time. As a result, rather than missing a deadline, many drivers ignore signs of exhaustion to cover more ground. Unfortunately, even though they have the best of intentions, by neglecting to rest, these truckers put themselves and every driver and passenger around them at risk.

An Hours of Service (HOS) mandate was created to limit work periods, promote rest periods, and prevent truckers from falling asleep at the wheel. The rules stated that a trucker could work up to, but no more than, 82 hours a week (more than double regular working hours). Although it addressed a work limit, it failed to address when, if, or how long a driver had to sleep.

Updated HOS Regulations

In 2012, an updated trucker’s ‘hours of service’ mandate was passed to correct the failings of the previous rules and specifically lay out when, how, and why truck drivers must take mandatory rest and recovery breaks.

The current, updated HOS rules focuses directly on when and how long a driver must rest in order to promote safe driving habits. These specifics include the following mandates:

  • Seventy-hour work week. Truckers must limit their work periods—including drive time, maintenance, and unload—so as not to exceed 70 hours in one week.
  • Thirty-four hour rest period. If a driver reaches his 70-hour week limit, he can resume driving if and only if he completes a consecutive 34-hour rest period. The rest period must also include a sleep period of at least two nights between the hours of 1-5 a.m. to ensure recovery.
  • Thirty-minute breaks. Truck drivers are required to split their first eight-hour shift by taking a break. This break must last at least 30 minutes and can’t include any type of work duties.
  • Eleven-hour maximum drive time. Drivers must never drive for more than eleven consecutive hours.
  • Fourteen-hour maximum work time. Fourteen hours is the longest period a driver can spend on work duties—this includes driving, maintenance, loading, paperwork, and any other work-related activities.
  • Ten-hour minimum shift break. Drivers must be allowed a minimum of 10 (consecutive) hours between driving shifts, which can be used to sleep and recover from the stress of the road.

The preciseness of these rules helps to eliminate confusion and promote safety. By forcing truckers to take breaks, these updated regulations force drivers into being more alert and focused. In turn, when drivers are well-rested and alert, roads become safer and truck accidents inevitably decline.

If you were injured by a truck driver who may have fallen asleep at the wheel, get help from the experienced truck accident attorneys at the Andrew Kim Law Firm, PLLC. We will make sure you get the representation you need to take on the powerful trucking industry.