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All About The Hours Truck Drivers Can Legally Drive


Trucking and truck driving has an inherent conflict when it comes to safety. On the one hand, trucking companies make money delivering goods—and delivering as many goods as quickly as possible. Likewise, drivers are rewarded on how quickly they move and deliver the goods that are being shipped.

But longer hours, and getting product from point A to B quickly, don’t always encourage safety. In fact, they encourage long, difficult hours by drivers. Long hours by drivers behind the wheel of a tractor trailer truck, means fatigue, which means accidents.

Truck drivers can get tired. They can fall asleep. They may drive when they are sick, or on medicine. The results can be devastating.

Laws Restricting Driving Hours

That’s why the law limits how often and how long a truck driver is allowed to operate a truck at any one continuous time. Of course, just requiring that a driver not drive and be given time to rest, doesn’t mean that the driver actually does rest—nobody can force a driver to put his or her head on a pillow—but the rules at least ensure that a driver who needs it will get the downtime needed to remain driving safely.

Federal laws, passed by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, require that a driver drive for no more than 11 hours in one day. That is only after the driver has been given 10 consecutive hours not working. The time given to the drivers not working can be spent sleeping in the sleeper cab of a truck, if it is so equipped.

Note that the 11 hours is for driving—a driver can work more than 11 hours straight, so long as only 11 of them are spent actually driving. That number can be extended in emergencies, and in some locations during the holiday shopping season.

Every eight hours, a truck driver needs to take a 30 minute break from driving.

The law also regulates weekly hours. The maximum number of hours that a driver can drive over the course of a week, is 60 hours. Once the driver has been off for 34 hours, the driver can then “start the clock over,” and the 60-hours limit starts over at the first hour.

Over the course of 8 days, the maximum that a driver can work is 70 hours.

Tracking Driving Hours

How does the government know that drivers and trucking companies are complying with these rules? Because they are required to track both driving and resting with a log. Many trucks also have electronic recorders, which track how long the truck is in use. Whichever system is used, there must be copies made, so that both the driver and the company have the records.

Note that these limits are for trucks that carry freight; for passenger-carrying trucks, the rules are a bit different.

Call the Knoxville truck accident lawyers at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, PLLC, today for help recovering compensation.




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