An overwhelming majority of trucking accidents occur because of driver fatigue. In an attempt to reduce the number of oftentimes devastating trucking accidents that occur on U.S. roads, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration developed the Hours of Service regulations.
The FMCSA maintains standard hours of service that apply to most truckers. However, It also has exceptions.
Per the FMCSA, truckers who carry property as their cargo may drive for no more than 11 hours after an off-duty period of no less than 10 successive hours. The maximum driving period for a passenger-carrying truck is 10 hours after an 8-hour rest period.
The FMCSA gets more specific with the HOS, though. Drivers may not drive past the 14th consecutive hour following an on-duty period of 10-hours, even if they did not drive for 11 hours. Off-duty time does not include the 14-hour period. Passenger-carrying drivers may not drive beyond the 15th consecutive hour of an on-duty period.
When a driver has driven for eight collective hours without taking at least a 30-minute break, the law requires him or her to take a 30-minute break. This is the case for both property-carrying and passenger-carrying drivers.
The 60/70 rule
Per the law, drivers may not drive after an on-duty period of 6-/70 hours within a seven-to-eight-day period. Only once a driver takes 34 consecutive hours off may he or she restart the seven-to-eight-day driving period. Only the first half of this rule applies to passenger-carrying drivers as well.
New exceptions to the HOS rules
The FMCSA does provide several exceptions to the HOS rules. Two, in particular, are new and worth noting. The first is the short haul exception. This exception applies to drivers whose haul is 150 air miles or less. In these instances, a 14-hour work shift may occur as part of the exception.
The second new exception is the adverse driving conditions exception. Per this rule, drivers may drive an additional two hours if the weather conditions are perilous.
It is important for trucking accident victims to familiarize themselves with HOS rules and exceptions if they plan on pursuing compensation. An experienced and knowledgeable lawyer can also serve as an invaluable resource when building a trucking accident claim.