Compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Interstate Passenger Carrying Driver’s Guide to Hours of Service concerns various regulations addressing service hours. These hours apply to all individuals when operating commercial motor vehicles in the United States no matter the vehicle’s destination or driving time involved. The purpose of these regulations is to prevent accidents caused by commercial motor vehicle suffering from fatigue, which is known to result in errors of judgment and inattentive drivers. This article will explain some of the most important elements of the Driver’s Guide to Hours of Service. It should be noted that the Hours of Service are contained in Section 395 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. It is important to understand that these are just federal regulations and that individuals must also follow applicable state laws when driving.
Parties to Whom the Hours of Service Regulations Apply
All commercial motor vehicle operators must follow hours of service regulations. A commercial motor vehicle is defined as a bus, motorcoach, or other passenger-carrying vehicles that is:
- Carrying Hazardous Materials. Involved in interstate commerce and transporting hazardous materials in a quantity that requires signage. Commerce involves any type of trade in which a person buys or sells good and services and can also include vehicles that move goods or passengers between places. Interstate refers to travel between states or countries.
- Carrying a Sufficient Weight. Involved in interstate commerce and weighs at least 10,001 pounds.
- A Patient Commercial Transport. Involved in interstate commerce and designed to transport nine or more individuals for compensation.
- A Patient Transport That is Not Commercial. Involved in interstate commerce and designed to transport 16 or more individuals, not for compensation.
Understanding Hours of Service Regulations
The hours of service requirements are calculated over a 168-hour period, or one week, and commence when a driver begins duty. Once duty has begun, a driver is required to follow several important restrictions, which include the following:
- 10 Hours. Each new duty period must begin with at least 10 hours previously off duty.
- 14-Hour Periods. The driver is limited to a maximum of 14 hours of driving each day. This 14-hour period includes the time that a person takes for breaks, fuel stops, and meals.
- 30-Minute Breaks. The driver must take a mandatory 30-minute break by the eighth hour of coming on duty.
- 60 Hours. Motor vehicle operators are permitted to work 60 hours out of 168 hours in a week. Drivers are able to work 60 hours on duty in seven consecutive days.
- Restart Period. Motor vehicle operators can restart the seven-day period once every 168 hours by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty. This 34-hour period must include two consecutive periods must include two consecutive periods from 1 am to 5 am.
Penalties for Violating Hours of Service Requirements
If a motor vehicle operator is caught violating hours of service requirements, the resulting consequences can be particularly severe. These penalties can include:
- Criminal Charges. Criminal charges can be brought against a carrier that knowingly causes truck drivers to violate regulations.
- Fines. The truck driver might be forced to pay fines. Civil penalties can also be charged against the individual ranging from $1,000 to $11,000.
- Insurance Costs. The carrier’s safety rating can be decreased.
- Off-Duty Time. The truck may be taken out of service at roadside until the driver has accumulated enough off-duty time to operate a vehicle.
Contact a Seasoned Accident Attorney
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