How Long Can Semi-Truck Drivers Drive?

June 30, 2020

The “hours of service” regulations for semi-truck drivers in Bethlehem and elsewhere, established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), are designed to keep fatigued drivers off the public roadways. These regulations place limits on when and how long these drivers can drive, helping to ensure that they stay awake and alert while driving and to help reduce the possibility of driver fatigue. If you’ve been injured in a crash involving a truck driver who may have been on the road too long, contact our Bethlehem truck accident attorney today.

The Basic Hours of Service Rules

The hours of service regulations for property-carrying drivers (the rules for passenger-carrying drivers are somewhat different) can be summarized as follows:

  • 11-Hour Driving Limit: A driver may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • 14-Hour Limit: A driver may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
  • Rest Breaks: A driver may drive only if eight hours or less have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes.
  • 60-70 Hour Limit: A driver may not drive after 60-70 hours on duty in 7-8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7-8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

Who Must Comply With the Hours of Service Rules?

The hours of service regulations, or rules, only apply to drivers of “commercial motor vehicles.” This includes Bethlehem drivers of trucks or truck-tractors with trailers, who are involved in “interstate commerce” and:

  • Weighs, include any load, 10,001 pounds or more,
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more, or
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards.

So then, what is meant by “interstate commerce?” “Commerce” means the buying and selling of goods and services and the term “interstate commerce” generally refers to transporting goods that are intended to be moved from one state to another state or to another country. 

By contrast, “intrastate commerce” refers to goods that are intended to be moved within a single state. Nonetheless, even intrastate commerce drivers are subject to state regulations, which in most states are similar or identical to federal regulations.

Contact a Bethlehem Truck Accident Attorney at Drake, Hileman & Davis

The rules and regulations set out above are merely summarizations, and there are many more rules involving issues such as record-keeping, adverse driving conditions, sleeper berth provisions, and descriptions of “on-duty” vs. “off-duty,” along with many exceptions and clarifications. The actual rules in their entirety are very specific and can be complex and confusing. This is why semi-truck drivers need the help of a Bethlehem truck accident attorney at Drake, Hileman & Davis. Our attorneys understand the numerous rules and regulations, along with the various pitfalls that semi-truck drivers can fall into, despite their best intentions.

The attorneys at Drake, Hileman & Davis can help you understand the rules and examine your options if you have been involved in an accident. If you need our help contact us online.