Does Federal Law Limit The Hours That A Truck Can Be On The Road

Yes. The ‘hours of service' rule under Federal Law does limit the number of hours that any truck, driven by a single truck driver, can continuously be on the road. These rules were established in 1939 in order to reduce truck driver fatigue and to increase the safety of trucks on the roads.

These original rules have since been altered and a new set of regulations put in place as to the ‘hours of service' allowed to any truck driver. According to these new rules, a truck driver can drive for a maximum of 11 continuous hours, in a 14-hour work day, after which they are required to take a mandatory rest period of 10 hours before getting behind the wheel of their truck again. In any seven-day period, the truck can be on the road for 60-77 hours, and in an eight-day period, the truck can be driven between 70-88 hours. If the truck and its driver have been off the road for two and a half days continuously, they then can start their week at zero hours.

The federal government established these new hours of service rules because truck driver fatigue is one of the highest causes of truck accidents in the United States. In a bid to provide the truck drivers with rest and sleep, and to reduce truck accidents due to truck driver fatigue, these laws have been put into effect to limit the number of hours that a truck can be on the road.

Even though truck drivers and trucking companies are bound by law to follow these rules, there are many who don't. The main reason truck drivers break the hours of service rule is to make more money, or because of very tight delivery schedules.

If you have been injured in a truck accident which was caused because the truck driver fell asleep at the wheel, or if his physical and mental abilities were compromised due to fatigue and driving long hours, then you may have a valid claim against either the driver, the company or both. You will have to prove that the truck driver and/or the trucking company was in violation of the ‘hours of service' rule.

Since this rule is a federal law, if your case is based on the violation of such law, it will be tried in a federal court and not in a state court. Driving when fatigued and keeping the truck on the road for more hours than is allowed by law, are in direct violation of federal regulations and can be enough proof of negligence of the truck driver. The trucking company can also be held negligent if the following can be established:

The trucking company did not consider truck driver fatigue and scheduled the truck to be on the road beyond the allowed limit.
The company had a very tight deadline to meet and forced the truck driver to keep the truck on the road beyond the federal limits.

Thus, in such a truck accident, where the truck was on the road for more time than what is legally allowed, the driver and the trucking company can be defendants in an personal injury lawsuit.

Of utmost importance in such a lawsuit is the log book of the truck driver. All truck drivers are required to maintain a driver's log book detailing their duty hours and status. The log book can be important evidence and can be used to prove if the truck was operated beyond federal hour limits, and if the ‘hours of service' rule has been violated by the truck and its driver.

To help with your lawsuit, it is best to hire a professional attorney, who is experienced in truck accident cases and who can guide you through the entire legal process in recovering damages owed to you.

Keywords: truck accident, truck driver limitations, truck driver hours of service, hours of service rules, driving limitation, truck driver fatigue, truck crash, semi-truck accident

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