What should I know about trucking companies and hours of service rules?

Every driver can benefit from a basic understanding of commercial trucking rules. We see these massive eighteen-wheelers on our nation’s roadways every single day. They play a key role in our economy, helping get goods and materials to communities throughout the country. Still, all too often, trucking companies push their drivers too hard and set the trucks and their drivers up for failure.

Unfortunately, failure can mean a catastrophic accident when dealing with commercial trucks.

What are the rules?

Rules to help better ensure the safe operation of these trucks abound and range from the need for proper lighting on the truck to increase visibility to required maintenance to ensure the vehicle is in good working order. One important rule that often receives media attention involves the hours the driver spends driving the truck. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) notes that these hours of service (HOS) regulations generally include an 11-hour maximum driving time after taking 10 consecutive hours off and a required 30-minute break after 8 hours of cumulative driving time.

Sometimes, the trucking company or driver can request an exception to these rules, but the FMCSA is hesitant to grant these requests. This is because abuse of these exemptions can lead to tragic results.

What happens when a trucking company or driver violates these rules?

It depends on the outcome of the violation. If an inspector finds the violation, the trucking company and/or driver may receive a warning or penalty. Suppose an investigation after an accident leads to the discovery of the violation. In that case, the same penalties and the potential for a civil lawsuit can apply if anyone is injured or killed in the accident.

 

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