Truck-related highway accidents are not only serious, but also very common. In 2012, there were nearly 100 motor vehicle fatalities, in both Missouri and Arkansas, involving large commercial trucks. Accidents involving 18-wheelers often result in catastrophic injuries, simply because of the sheer size and weight of an 18-wheeler. In light of the serious risks 18-wheelers create on the roadway, federal and state regulations have been created to govern how trucking companies, and the truck driver’s themselves, are required to operate. One major concern for long-haul truck drivers is driver exhaustion, which frequently results in accidents and death. In response to this concern, the “hours of service rule” was created.
What is the purpose of the Hours of Service (HOS) regulation?
The purpose of the Hours of Service rule, established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), is to limit a truck driver’s ability to work the maximum number of hours currently allowed, on a continuing basis, in order to reduce the likelihood of driver fatigue. Long hours driving on the road have been linked to an increased risk of crashes, as well as chronic health conditions associated with sleep deprivation.
Who do these rules apply to?
Drivers who operate commercial motor vehicles are required to follow the Hours of Service Regulations. A “commercial motor vehicle” is defined as any vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and fits any of the following descriptions:
- Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
- Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
- Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
- Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
- Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards
Basic rules for property-carrying commercial motor vehicles
The Hours of Service regulations, as they apply to individuals carrying property (as opposed to passengers), prohibit truck drivers from driving more than 11 hours at a time, or to driver after being on duty for 14 hours. The difference in time reflects non-driving work duties, such as loading or unloading cargo and meal and rest breaks. After either an 11 or 14 hour on-duty period, truck drivers must be given 10 hours off duty. As far as weekly hours, truck drivers are prohibited from driving after having been on-duty 60 hours in 7 consecutive days, or after having been on-duty 70 hours in 8 consecutive days.
Truck drivers are required to keep log books
Every commercial motor vehicle driver is required to keep track of his driving and on-duty time with a log book, which can be either written or electronic. The log book typically has a grid pattern on every page, dividing the 24-hour day into 15-minute segments. Drivers are also required to make carbon copies of every page. One copy must be kept with the driver, to be provided to DOT officials upon inspection, if necessary. The other copy is to be sent to the driver’s employer.
If you have questions regarding Hours or Service regulations, or any other trucking accident issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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