What is the Hours of Service Rule?

Commercial truck operators are required to obey both federal and state regulations designed to ensure the safety of other roadway users. One of the most consequential rules is the Hours of Service rule, which restricts how much time a driver is allowed to spend behind the wheel before they are required to take a break.

If you were injured in a commercial truck accident and feel that the truck’s operator is at fault, contact an experienced Virginia truck accident lawyer at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp. Our Virginia Beach truck accident attorneys have a thorough knowledge of the trucking industry and the rules and regulations that govern it and are able to answer any questions you have about the Hours of Service rules. We provide a free consultation to all truck accident victims to examine your claim and determine who is liable for your injuries and damages.  

What Is the Hours of Service Rule?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration first instituted the Hours of Service rule in 1937. Although it has undergone numerous changes, its goal remains the same; to restrict the length of time a truck operator is permitted to drive during a consecutive number of hours. 

The Hours of Service rule is made up of multiple regulations that define when and for how long a truck driver must remain off the road during their shift. 

  • Hours in a week: Truck operators are confined to working no more than 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days.
  • Hours in a day: Truck operators who are hauling goods may drive for no more than 11 hours after a 10-hour break. Operators transporting passengers may drive for no more than 10 hours after eight consecutive hours on break. 
  • Mandatory rest breaks: Commercial drivers must take a 30-minute break after eight consecutive hours of driving.  

What is the Purpose of the Hours of Service Rule?

The Hours of Service rule was designed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to lower the risk of serious commercial trucking accidents caused by sleep-deprived and fatigued truck drivers. 

Driver fatigue commonly occurs when truck operators are forced, persuaded, or incentivized to meet rigid or unfeasible delivery deadlines, causing them to spend a dangerous amount of time behind the wheel of an enormous commercial vehicle. 

What Are the Consequences for Violating the Hours of Service Rule?

If a truck driver chooses to ignore the Hours of Service rule, there are many potential penalties for not only the truck driver but for their employer as well, such as: 

  • The driver will be prohibited from operating a commercial vehicle until they have amassed enough downtime to be in compliance with the Hours of Service.
  • Freight companies that allow, force, persuade, or incentivize drivers to violate this rule could face federal penalties.
  • Based on the severity of the violation, truck operators and their employers caught violating the hours of service can be fined as much as $14,700 for each violation.
  • The company’s safety rating may be lowered if Hours of Service violations seem to be a habit.

Do You Have Questions About the Hours of Service Rule?

If you were injured in a Virginia truck accident, you need to consult with an experienced attorney who can explain all of your legal options and help you seek just compensation for your damages. The Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can give you the guidance you need to achieve a successful case result. Schedule a free consultation today by calling (833) 997-1774.

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