How long can a truck driver legally drive before he or she has to take a mandatory break?

New trucking laws went into effect on July 1, 2013. These laws changed the hours of service regulations for drivers of large trucks.

The government wants to ensure truckers do not become fatigued during their travels. In general, a truck driver may drive no more than 11 or 14 hours before they must take a mandatory break. Whether traveling across the country or traveling between smaller localities in Ohio like Grove City, truckers must always follow federal regulations.

The DOT’s Hours-of-Service (HOS) Regulations for Truck Drivers

A property-carrying driver must abide by the Hours of Service of Drivers Final Rule, which became effective on February 27, 2012 with a complete compliance date of July 1, 2013. Regulations were updated to include a provision for rest breaks, better define “on-duty time”, and increase penalties for violations.

Currently, the HOS rules for property-carrying drivers are as follows: 

  • 11-hour driving limit, where a driver may drive up to 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • 14-hour limit, where a driver cannot drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • A driver may drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since the end of his or her last off-duty or a sleeper-berth period of 30 minutes or more.
  • A driver may not drive after 60 hours on duty in 7 consecutive days.
  • A driver may not drive after 70 hours on duty in 8 consecutive days.
  • A driver must take 34 or more consecutive hours off duty in order to restart a 7 or 8 consecutive day period, which must include two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. at his or her home terminal.
  • Drivers using the sleeper berth provision must spend 8 consecutive hours or more in the sleeper berth and a separate 2 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth or off duty, or a combination of both.

The Importance of Truckers Following the HOS Rules

A study conducted by the Federal Highway Administration and other agencies and companies between 1994 and 1998 found that most truck drivers’ self-assessments of their ability to drive while fatigued did not correspond to their actual field test performance.

Negligent truck drivers may overestimate their ability to drive when tired, which can cause serious truck accidents. As you can see, rest is a very important part of safe trucking. A University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study showed that long-distance trips were more likely to end in fatal truck crashes than shorter distance trips where the drivers were not as likely to become fatigued.

Truckers who fail to follow the hours of service rules put themselves and the other vehicles and pedestrians sharing the road at risk of serious bodily injury or death. In these cases, victims or their families should exercise their right to an attorney when seeking a settlement from the insurance company or filing a lawsuit against the truck driver or their employer.

Fatigued Truck Drivers Cause Crashes: We’re Here to Help

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident with a big rig in the Grove City area, contact Bressman Law. Attorney David Bressman is serious about defending the rights of injured Grove City residents. As a member of the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, he’s handled cases involving big rigs, negligent truckers, and irresponsible trucking companies.

Call today, (877) 538-1116, and schedule a free consultation regarding your truck accident case.