What You Need to Know About the Hours of Service Rule in Truck Accident Cases
The Hours of Service Rule, Explained
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the agency responsible for creating the Hours of Service Rule in order to restrict the amount of hours that a trucker can operate a tractor-trailer during a given shift. There are a several regulations that are imposed by the hours of service rule which regulate how a trucker spends a shift, which include the following:
- The number of hours driven in one week – truckers can only work 70 hours in an eight-day period or 60 hours in a consecutive seven-day period.
- Hours driven in one day – drivers who transport cargo can only drive eleven hours after having had ten consecutive hours to rest. Truckers who transport passengers can only drive ten hours after having had ten consecutive hours off duty.
- Breaks – commercial truckers must take a break for at least 30 minutes after driving for eight consecutive hours.
Why is the Hours of Service Rule So Important?
The FMCSA created the hours of service rule in order to reduce the likelihood of crashes involving truck drive fatigue. Driver fatigue is often caused by a trucker being subject to pressure to meet or exceed unrealistic deadlines, resulting in truck drivers who are unable to safely operate a commercial truck.
What Occurs When a Trucker/Trucking Company Violates the Hours of Service Rule?
There are several repercussions associated with a violation of the Hours of Service Rule, and may affect both the trucker and his or her employer. These include the following:
- The trucker cannot operate an 18-wheeler until he or she has gained enough time off to comply with the Hours of Service Rule.
- A trucking company that has encouraged its drivers to violate the Hours of Service Rule may face federal penalties.
- Truck drivers and their companies may be fined up to $14,700 per violation, depending upon the facts and circumstances of an incident.
- The safety rating of the trucking company can be reduced if there are a number of violations.
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