Driver fatigue is a serious concern for the trucking industry. Truck drivers often work late hours and odd shifts. Additionally, drivers under tight schedules might be encouraged to push the limits despite feeling too tired to drive safely. In order to combat these issues and protect the drivers and those they share the road with from trucking accident injuries, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has instituted safety regulations regarding truck driver hours of service.
Hours of service rules apply to anyone driving a commercial motor vehicle involved in interstate commerce that fits any of the following descriptions:
- Weighs in excess of 10,000 pounds, with or without cargo
- Is designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
- Is designed to transport nine or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
- Is transporting hazardous materials
The hours of service regulations distinguish between property-carrying and passenger-carrying vehicles, and prescribe specific driving and on-duty limits for each. On-duty time refers to all the time from when the driver begins to work, or is required for readiness to work, until when the driver is relieved from all work responsibilities.
On-duty time may include a broad range of activity including time spent at the carrier’s or shipper’s plant; waiting to be dispatched; all time inspecting, servicing, or conditioning a commercial motor vehicle; all time loading or unloading the vehicle; all time spent for the purpose of drug or alcohol testing; and any time spent working for compensation for the motor carrier or any other employer.
Hours of Service for Property-Carrying Drivers
- 14-Hour Limit: Drivers may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty. They may continue to work past the 14th hour, but must have at least ten hours off duty before driving again. Lunch breaks and other off-duty time cannot extend the 14-hour period.
- 11-Hour Driving Limit: Drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours following ten consecutive hours off duty.
- Rest Breaks: Drivers are prohibited from driving more than eight hours without taking a minimum 30-minute rest break.
Hours of Service for Passenger-Carrying Drivers
- 10-Hour Driving Limit: Drivers may drive a maximum of ten hours following eight consecutive hours off duty.
- 15-Hour Limit: Drivers may not drive after having been on duty for 15 hours, following eight consecutive hours off duty.
Truck Driver Daily Log Book
All drivers of commercial motor vehicles must track their compliance with the FMCSA’s hours of service regulations by keeping a record of duty status. Trucks may be equipped with an automatic on-board recording device to assist the driver with time keeping, however the record of duty status must be in the driver’s own handwriting and include the driver’s signature. This log book must include all driving time, time on-duty but not driving, time spent in the sleeper berth, total miles traveled, and details regarding what was shipped.
These log books can play a central part in a truck accident investigation in instances in which it is suspected that the truck driver was fatigued. In cases where no violation was found on the log book, a closer look may be necessary to uncover the truth. An experienced truck accident lawyer can compare log books to other supporting documents, such as toll tickets or fuel receipts, in order to prove that a truck driver has falsified their records.
Steps to Take if Injured
The lawyers at Grungo Colarulo have extensive experience in New Jersey truck accident litigation. We know the rules that govern the trucking industry as well as all the ways that drivers and motor carriers try to get around those rules.
If you have been injured in a car accident involving a commercial truck, call 877-679-7772 today to schedule your free consultation with one of our knowledgeable and highly skilled lawyers or submit an online contact form.