Rules Truck Drivers Have to Follow

Rules truck drivers and carriers have to follow about working hours and more.

Rules Truck Drivers Have to Follow

Truck drivers need to abide by strict regulations called Hours of Service regulations. These rules were created to monitor and control the number of consecutive hours a driver is on the road. They are in place to prevent truck drivers from driving too tired and causing an accident and they also prevent carriers from forcing extremely long working hours on their employees.

Who Creates and Monitors These Regulations

Trucker regulations are created and monitored on the federal level by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and on a state level by the department of transportation and the employing truck accompanies.

Who do the Hours of Service Regulations Apply to?

The Hours of Service regulations apply to drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles, these are trucks that are involved in interstate commerce and weight 10,001 pounds or more or are transporting hazardous material requiring a hazmat precaution placard to be placed.

Hours of Service regulations are enforced to ensure not only the truck driver’s security but that of other drivers on the road as well. They place a limit on how many consecutive hours a driver is allowed to work for and how many rest breaks and time they should take in between working hours. Some of these regulations include:

  • 14-hour consecutive period in which they are allowed to drive 11 hours maximum. These 11 hours of driving can only be worked after the driver has been off duty for 10 or more consecutive hours. Other work can be done after 11 hours of driving such as truck maintenance, but no driving is allowed after 11 hours of driving have passed.
  • These regulations require truck drivers to take a 30-minute rest break after more than 8 hours have passed since their last rest break of at least half an hour. After the 30 minutes break, they are allowed to resume driving.
  • “Off duty” time refers to time when a driver is relieved of all work-related responsibilities.
  • “On duty” time is defined as any work performed related to job duties, such as time spent on a truck’s maintenance, driving time, time spent unloading or loading a truck.

Goals of Truck Driver Regulations

The Hours of Service regulations are enforced to protect the truck driver’s health and safety and the public’s safety as well. The regulations limit how long a driver is allowed to drive for to ensure that they are well rested and stay alert on the road. These restrictions on driving time reduce the possibility of a truck driver driving drowsy or tired, which can become dangerous and cause a truck accident.

What Happens if a Truck Driver or Carrier Breaks the Hours of Service Rules

Violation of Hours of Service regulations results in penalties for both the driver and the trucking company they work for. Some of these penalties include placing drivers out of service until they have enough off-duty time to be able to go back to work in compliance with regulations. Depending on the severity of the violation the FMCSA could charge civil penalties on the driver or their employer. For more extreme cases, federal criminal penalties can be charged against carriers who allow their drivers to break these rules.

Truck drivers all over the country will be working long hours during this holiday season. An increase in shipments due to online holiday shopping means that we will see more trucks on the roads. If you notice that a truck driver is swerving off the road or driving recklessly, keep a safe distance from the vehicle to prevent an accident. If you are able to do so safely, call 911 and report it to the authorities.

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Mariela Corella
See all posts by Mariela Corella