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How Many Hours Can a Truck Driver Work Consecutively?

Posted on: August 28, 2023

Perhaps the most devastating accidents on the road today involve large commercial trucks.  A leading cause of these truck accidents is driver fatigue.  To alleviate the issue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued regulations limiting the number of consecutive hours a driver can operate their truck, among other safety guidelines. 

For years, truck drivers drove on notoriously tight schedules at odd hours for long periods.  To prevent the many dangers of fatigued driving for these truck drivers, the FMCSA issued many hours-of-service regulations:

  • Drivers cannot drive beyond 11 hours of daily driving with a 14-hour on-duty cap. 
  • Drivers cannot drive and be on duty for more than 14 consecutive hours. 
  • Once 14 hours are reached, the driver must take a 10 consecutive hour break. 
  • Drivers must take a 30-minute break for every 8 hours of driving. 
  • Drivers can only be on duty for a maximum of 60 hours in one seven-day period or 70 hours in one 8-day period. 
  • If the weekly limit is reached, drivers can continue after 34 hours of consecutive rest. 
  • Drivers must follow the 60/70-hour limit, which means they cannot drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. 
  • Drivers are allowed to extend the 11-hour driving limit and 14-hour driving limit by up to 2 hours if encountering adverse driving conditions. 

According to the FMCSA, drivers of commercial vehicles must comply with the HOS regulations and keep a record of their duty status.  This record of duty status must be in the driver’s handwriting and signature.  Trucks may be equipped with an on-board recording device to help the driver with timekeeping.  The logbook includes all driving time, time on duty, time spent in the sleeper berth, total miles traveled, and details of what is being shipped. 

Most commercial truck drivers must comply with the FMCSA regulations.  These are drivers of trucks that:

  • Weigh more than 10,000 pounds.
  • Have a gross vehicle weight of at least 10,000 pounds.
  • Transports materials that require placards.
  • Transports materials involved with interstate commerce. 

Fatigue Driving is Dangerous

There are a few warning signs that can help a driver recognize that they are fatigued, including:

  • Excessive yawning.
  • Trouble keeping my head up.
  • Excessive blinking.
  • Drifting in and out of another lane.
  • Erratic speeding.
  • Inability to focus or pay attention.
  • Daydreaming.
  • Swerving.
  • Ignoring traffic signs or signals.
  • Frequent braking.

What Penalties Can a Truck Driver Face for Violating FMCSA Regulations?

Not complying with FMCSA’s driving limits is very dangerous, and penalties can accrue against the driver or trucking company.  Penalties can include:

  • Fines from local and state law enforcement.
  • FMCSA civil penalties, ranging from $1,000 to $11,000.
  • Put on roadside shutdown until enough off-duty time accumulates to drive.
  • Federal criminal penalties are imposed if the driver or trucking company willfully violates guidelines.
  • Potential reduction in safety rating.

Freehold Truck Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Help Injured Victims Recover Compensation

If you have been injured in a truck accident, our Freehold truck accident lawyers at Ellis Law are here to help you.  Call us today at 732-308-0200 or fill out our online form for a free consultation.  Located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients in Asbury Park, East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Long Branch, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, Monmouth County, Marlboro, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York City.

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