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Commercial truck drivers spend most their time out on the road, transporting freight from place to place with strict deadlines to meet. Today, there are some stringent federal regulations all drivers and trucking companies must follow, especially as it relates to hours of service.
These regulations are a necessity. In years before they were instituted, truck drivers were essentially forced to drive all hours of the day (and night) to be able to get their shipments to their destinations as quickly as possible. This, of course, can be incredibly dangerous. Fatigued drivers are much more likely to cause accidents, with some studies indicating that being overly tired can be more dangerous than being intoxicated behind the wheel.
Even with these regulations, driver fatigue is still one of the most common causes of truck accidents in New York and across the country. But in general, hours of service rules have made the trucking industry much safer for everyone on our roads and highways, and allowed truck drivers to better maintain their own physical and mental health.
Who must adhere to hours of service regulations?
Most drivers who operate commercial vehicles are subject to these rules. A commercial motor vehicle is defined as any vehicle used in the scope of business operations, is used for interstate commerce and fits any of the following descriptions:
- Weighs at least 10,000 pounds
- Has a gross combination weight rating or gross vehicle weight rating of at least 10,000 pounds
- Is designed or used for transporting at least 16 passengers, including the driver, but not for compensation
- Is designed or used for transporting at least nine passengers, including the driver, for compensation
- Transports hazardous materials in a quantity large enough that it requires placards
Hours of service rules
Below is a quick overview of the hours of service rules that affect drivers of commercial vehicles. These rules apply to property-carrying drivers:
- 11-Hour Driving Limit: Commercial drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours, after they have had 10 consecutive hours off.
- 14-Hour Limit: Drivers are not allowed to drive beyond the 14th straight hour after coming on duty after 10 hours off. Off-duty time does not extend this period.
- Rests: Drivers may only operate if eight hours or fewer have transpired since the end of the driver’s last off-duty time or sleeper berth period of more than 30 minutes. There are some exceptions to this rule for short-haul situations.
- 60/70 Hour Limit: Drivers may not work after 60 or 70 hours on duty within seven or eight consecutive days. A driver may restart a seven- or eight-consecutive day period after taking at least 34 consecutive hours off.
The following are the rules for the operators of passenger-carrying vehicles:
- 10-Hour Driving Limit: Drivers are allowed a maximum of 10 hours driving after eight consecutive hours off.
- 15-Hour Limit: Drivers are not allowed to operate after they have been on duty for 15 hours after eight consecutive hours off. This does not include off-duty time.
- 60/70 Hour Limit: Operators may not drive after 60 or 70 hours on duty in seven or eight consecutive days.
- Sleeper Berth: Any driver who uses a sleeper berth must take at least eight hours in that berth, and can slit it into two periods so long as neither period is under two hours.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, one of the first steps to take is to determine if a driver or company violated any of these hours of service rules. For more information, speak with a knowledgeable New York truck accident lawyer at Robinson & Yablon.