How Many Hours Can a Trucker Drive?

To non-truckers, it may seem that commercial truck drivers enjoy a life of freedom on the road, and in many ways, that’s true. 

Nevertheless, drivers involved in interstate commerce must follow several strict ordinances set by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA), such as the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. These standards keep the public and fellow drivers safe by reducing the risk of truck accidents, primarily by fighting against the causes of driver fatigue.

The Dangers of Driver Fatigue

According to the Truck Safety Coalition, nearly 48% of truck drivers report that they have fallen asleep while driving. 

Truck driver fatigue is an issue partly because of the irregular hours they must work. Truckers are under a great deal of pressure to deliver their payloads on time, regardless of weather, road conditions, or personal issues. Some trucking companies have even been found guilty of pressuring drivers to ignore state and federal laws regarding driving hours. 

That being said, the potential disaster that could be caused by a multi-ton vehicle careening down the highway with a sleeping driver behind the wheel is, for lack of a better word, terrifying. 

Fatigue can increase the risk of fatal injury in the following ways:

  • Decreased alertness
  • Poor decision-making
  • Impaired reaction time
  • Memory impairment

Researchers have also found that drivers who go without sleep for 20 hours suffer similar impairment to drunk drivers. 

Hour Limits on Commercial Truck Drivers

According to HOS regulations, the amount of time a truck driver can spend driving per day is 11 hours. But there’s more to the regulation than just that. 

The driving must occur within a 14-hour shift and only after a rest period of at least 10 hours has been taken. And because truck drivers work a variety of shifts throughout the day and night, their driving window is not bound to a set time frame. 

The window begins at the driver’s normal start time. For example, if a driver begins work at 7 a.m. and their shift ends at 9 p.m., only 11 of those 14 hours can be spent driving. The other 3 must be spent on rest and meal breaks. Other duties, such as writing reports, can be completed after 9 p.m. but only if the driver is off the road. 

During long hauls, wherein drivers must sleep in their truck’s sleeping berth, the FMCSA allows for more flexibility with the required 10 hours of rest. In these cases, the 10-hour rest period can be divided into 7 consecutive hours off for sleeping and 3 hours of off-duty time. 

What if You Are Injured by a Tired Truck Driver?

If you’re involved in an accident with a commercial truck, take the same steps you would take in the aftermath of a car accident. If you suspect driver fatigue was a factor, speak with an experienced truck accident attorney. 

Proving that fatigue contributed to an accident is difficult. There is no test to guarantee fatigue as there is for driving under the influence, but trucks are equipped with electronic logging devices (ELDs), which track a driver’s hours in service. Having a record of a driver’s rest periods and driving times will help build a case for fatigue. 

Acting swiftly can make a difference in building a successful case, as evidence like dash cam footage and the logs from their ELD may not be available for long.

Hiring an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

An experienced personal injury attorney knows how to obtain electronic evidence, driver’s logs, medical records, witness statements, police reports, and other evidence that will help ensure you are fairly compensated after an accident.

They also understand how the legal system works and know how to fight for their clients. Hiring an experienced attorney helps ensure your medical and other financial needs will be met while you recover.

Contact Our Ocala Truck Accident Law Firm in North Central Florida

If you need legal assistance, contact the Ocala truck accident lawyers at Allen Law Firm at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We have three convenient locations in North Central Florida:

Allen Law Firm, P.A. – Ocala Office
112 S Pine Ave
Ocala, FL 34471
(352) 351-3258

Allen Law Firm, P.A. – Downtown Gainesville
621 W University Ave
Gainesville, FL 32601
(866) 928-6292

Allen Law Firm, P.A. – Gainesville office
2550 SW 76th St #150
Gainesville, FL 32608
(877) 255-3652