Trucking is a demanding job that requires intensive concentration for long stretches of time. Although it may not necessarily call for physical exertion, maneuvering through traffic for hours on end can be mentally draining.
To reduce the number of fatigued truckers on the roads, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) introduced the hours of service regulations. These regulations impose mandatory rest periods and maximum limits on the number of consecutive hours a commercial driver can spend on the road.
What Are the Hours of Service Regulations?
Truckers who are transporting freight may drive for up to 11 hours after spending 10 consecutive hours off duty. Commercial drivers who are transporting passengers, on the other hand, have a 10-hour driving limit after spending at least eight consecutive hours off duty.
There are additional 14- and 15-hour total limits for motorists transporting cargo and passengers, respectively. Commercial drivers may not drive beyond these limits, even if they took breaks and did not hit the maximum driving time of 11 or 10 hours for the day.
In regard to weekly limits, truckers may not drive more than 60/70 duty hours in 7/8 consecutive days. Once they reach this limit, they must break for at least 34 consecutive hours before restarting another 7/8-day stretch.
Who Must Comply with Hours of Service Regulations?
According to the FMCSA, you must follow the hours of service regulations if you are driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). A CMV is generally a vehicle that is involved in interstate commerce for business purposes and fits one of the following descriptions:
- Weighs more than 10,000 pounds;
- Is used to transport at least 16 passengers not for compensation;
- Is used to transport at least nine passengers for compensation; or
- Is transporting hazardous materials in a large enough quantity that it requires placards.
How to Prove an Hours of Service Violation
You cannot tell if a trucker is violating the hours of service regulations simply by looking at him or her; however, you can make an educated guess if you witnessed any signs of drowsy driving. These include swerving, failing to maintain a constant speed, drifting out of the proper lane, and failing to respond appropriately to traffic signs and signals.
If you were hurt in a truck accident and think fatigue on the other driver’s part may have played a role, a personal injury attorney can help you prove an hours of service violation by gathering the following kinds of evidence:
- Black box data;
- Toll booth tickets;
- Weigh station receipts;
- Hours of service logbook entries;
- GPS data that records location and speed of travel; and
- Maintenance records.
Discuss Your Case with a Truck Accident Lawyer in St. Cloud
Unfortunately, not all commercial drivers or motor carriers abide by the hours of service regulations. If you were hurt in in a truck accident with a drowsy driver but are not sure how to prove liability, turn to the personal injury lawyers at Bradshaw & Bryant.
We will use first-rate experts and cutting-edge technology to protect your best interests and enforce your rights. Call 320-259-5414 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free case evaluation with a truck accident attorney in St. Cloud.
A founding partner with Bradshaw & Bryant, Mike Bryant has always fought to find justice for his clients—knowing that legal troubles, both personal injury and criminal, can be devastating for a family. Voted a Top 40 Personal Injury "Super Lawyer" multiple years, Mr. Bryant has also been voted one of the Top 100 Minnesota "Super Lawyers" four times.