Truck Driver Hours of Service & Federal Regulations

It has long been known that driver while tired, fatigue, or exhausted is dangerous. Recent studies suggest that exhaustion is just as debilitating as intoxication behind the wheel. Indeed, countless traffic collisions around the world are caused by drivers who fell asleep.

Despite the dangers of exhausted driving, commercial truck drivers are routinely scheduled for long, long shifts that would be inexcusable in any other industry. Why is this permitted, if not outright encouraged? Aren’t there federal trucking regulations to keep tired truckers off the road?

Lenient Regulations Not Helping Enough

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) – a branch of the Department of Transportation – has set regulations to try to curb the number of truck accidents caused by exhausted truck drivers. Upon reviewing those regulations, it would not seem that there has been much advancement made, however.

Federal trucking regulations regarding hours of service are:

  • The average work week for a truck driver should not exceed 70 hours.
  • A trucker who does reach the 70-hour workweek cap may resume work later that same week so long as he or she takes a 34-hour break that includes two nights.
  • Truck drivers must take a 30-minute break no later than the eighth hour of each shift.
  • The average daily shift for a trucker should not exceed 14 hours, including 3 hours of time not spent behind the wheel.

With these regulations in place, the average truck driver is still on the road for 11 hours a day. This is an unreasonable amount by almost any means. Think back to the last time you took a short road trip – perhaps a five hour drive or so – and realize how tired you were by the end of it. Imagine more than doubling that amount, five times a week. This is the exhausting reality of the average truck driver’s schedule.

This does not even take into account specific loopholes and caveats to the regulations. In some circumstances, schedule limits are lifted so long as the truck driver never drives further than 100 miles from his or her starting depot. For couriers completing local routes, the workweek could be even longer and even more fatiguing.

What You Can Do After a Wreck

If you are struck by a commercial truck driver, you need to start thinking about your legal options right away. By recruiting a Houston 18-wheeler wreck lawyer from Haines Law, P.C., you can get highly-experienced and highly-praised legal professionals on your side. With us handling your claim, we can look into the facts behind your truck accident; if we determine that the driver had been on the road for hours that day or week, it could point to truck driver fatigue and remove any liability from you.


Learn more by contacting our team today. Consultations are free!


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