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How Do Hours of Service Regulations Prevent Truck Driver Fatigue?

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on October 5, 2011

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires most tractor-trailer drivers hauling cargo across state lines to follow the federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. These regulations dictate how long a driver may drive before taking a break, and how long breaks must be before the driver can get behind the wheel again. One of the purposes of the HOS requirements is to prevent drivers from becoming fatigued, which is a major cause of truck accidents.

Under the HOS requirements, most truck drivers may only drive within the 14-hour period that starts when they first come on duty. Once this 14-hour period is up, the driver must not drive for at least 10 hours before he or she gets behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer again. However, drivers may not drive for the entire 14 hours. Rather, drivers may drive for a maximum 11-hour stretch, and those hours must occur within the 14 hours that begin when the driver comes on duty. Drivers may do other work after their driving time limits are up, such as loading, unloading, cleaning the truck, or doing paperwork, but they may not drive.

In addition to the 11-hour and 14-hour limits, drivers are allowed to drive a total of only 60 hours in 7 days or 70 hours in 8 days. Once a driver has reached these limits, he or she must not drive for at least 34 hours in order to rest.

A tired or sleepy truck driver is at a much greater risk of a truck crash than a fully rested one. If you or someone you love has been injured in a crash, the experienced Washington truck accident attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. can help. Call us today at 888-228-3860 for a free consultation.

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