Federal Motor Carrier Rules to Combat Driver Fatigue

DumptruckDriving excessively long hours without rest and the continual use of no-sleep aids can lead to driver fatigue. Obviously, this is dangerous not only for the truck drivers, but also for those who must share the road with these sleepy giants. One FMCSA study has estimated that over 6,000 truck accidents every year involve fatigued truck drivers.

Hours of Service Limits on Driving Commercial Motor Vehicles

In an effort to make the roads safer from fatigued truck drivers, On July 1, 2013, the still current hours-of-service r rules went into effect for all commercial motor vehicles.  These rules place a number of restrictions on truck drivers that are still in place for drivers today. The regulations vary slightly for haulers of property vs haulers of people.

Limitations on Haulers of Property

Truck drivers hauling property are subject to the following restrictions:

  1. They may only drive a maximum of 11 hours total after having taken 10 consecutive hours off-duty.
  2.  They may not drive beyond the 14th hour after having been off-duty 10 consecutive hours.
  3.  They may drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes. (This is a mandatory break that applies unless certain exceptions apply.)
  4. They may not drive for more than 60 hours in one week or 70 hours in any 8 consecutive days.
  5. Drivers using the sleeper berth provision must spend at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.

Limitations on Commercial Motor Vehicles Carrying Passengers

Commercial Motor Carriers that transport people from one place to another have a slightly different set of rules as follows:

  1. Commercial Motor Vehicle drivers carrying people may only drive a maximum of 10 hours after a period of 10 hours off.
  2. They may not drive beyond the 15th hour after having been off-duty 10 consecutive hours.
  3. They may not drive for more than 60 hours in one week or 70 hours in any 8 consecutive days.
  4. Drivers using the sleeper berth provision must spend at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.

Penalties for Violations

Drivers and companies that violate the rules could face stiff fines and penalties of up to $11,000.00 per violation.

A truck driver and/or motor carrier who violates the above rules and causes an accident may also be held liable for damages and harms caused under civil personal injury law. If you should find yourself a victim of an accident caused by a fatigued driver, please contact us for a free consultation with no obligation. It is critical that the investigation into an 18 wheeler accident begin as soon as possible to determine the full extent of the role driver fatigue played in causing the crash.

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Paul Cannon

Paul Cannon has practiced personal injury trial law since 1995. He is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law (2005). He has earned recognition as a Super Lawyer by Thompson Reuters in 2017 & 2018, and as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association in 2017. He is a Shareholder, trial lawyer and online marketing manager at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. His legal writings have been published by the Texas Bar Journal, Business.com, Lawyer.com HG Legal Resources, Lawfirms.com, and others. He has been asked to give education talks and media interviews on dog bite law.