How long truck drivers can drive legally on the road is mandated by FMCSA. All commercial truck drivers have regulations in place to guarantee that they are not overworked. You and everyone else on the road are at risk when you’re in the driver’s seat because you’re exhausted or worn out. It is obligatory for drivers to take breaks and set a limit on the number of hours they may drive every day. The U.S. Department of Transportation is in charge of enforcing these regulations.
How Long Can Truckers Drive?
Federal and State Regulations
HOS restrictions issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration limit the amount of time a truck driver may spend behind the wheel to only 11 hours each 24-hour period. Truck drivers may anticipate covering 500 miles on average based on their speed and other considerations.
CMV drivers, for the most part, are required to follow the rules. Cargo-moving vehicles (CMVs) are generally defined as any vehicle that is employed in a commercial context and is engaged in interstate commerce. These should have:
- A mass of at least 10,001 pounds.
- More than 10,001-pounds gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle/combination weight rating.
- A capacity of 16 or more people (including the driver), and is not utilized for compensation.
- When a vehicle is intended or utilized for the purpose of transporting nine or more people (including the driver).
- While carrying large amounts of hazardous materials.
Hours of Service (HOS)
Maximum driving duration and rest times are outlined in “hours of service” in order to keep drivers awake and aware while they are working their shifts. HOS laws stated in 49 CFR 395 apply to all commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers and carriers. In order to provide drivers more leeway while still maintaining a high level of safety, the FMCSA made four revisions to its hours-of-service requirements that took effect on June 1, 2020. Starting on September 29, 2020, all motor carriers are now subject to the new HOS laws.
In the case of short-distance travel, they allow a 14-hour work shift as part of the exemption for short-haul flights of 150 air miles or less. An exception to adverse driving conditions increases the driving window by up to two hours while traveling in bad weather.
30-Minute Rest Period After Driving
The need for a 30-minute rest period – a break of at least 30 minutes must be taken after 8 cumulative hours of driving (instead of on-duty time), and the mandatory break may include time spent both on-duty and not driving.
As long as the total time spent in the berth is at least 7 hours, a driver may complete the 10-hour minimum off-duty requirement by spending at least 2 hours either inside or outdoors, as long as both times add up to at least 10 hours. The 14-hour driving window is not affected if both qualifying periods are utilized together as described.
Drivers’ work and duty times are separated by the DOT. While a workweek and a duty period are similar, they are different in terms of time. A driver’s actual hours worked, rather than a set schedule, are taken into account in DOT rules since traditional hours aren’t usually followed. When it comes to the start of a trucker’s workweek, for example, it may begin at 5pm on a Tuesday or 3am on a Saturday.
Truck drivers have a seven-day workweek. There must be at least a 34-hour gap between consecutive seven-day work periods for drivers.
Within the first eight hours of their shift, truckers must also take a 30-minute break. There have been scientific studies done to ensure that drivers get enough rest so they don’t become too tired when behind the wheel. For the most part, truckers are better off adhering to HOS requirements to prevent potentially deadly accidents or errors.
How Many Hours Can Truck Drivers Drive?
A trucker is permitted to be on the road for the following durations under current hours-of-service rules:
- In a day / shift – Truck drivers can drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off-duty, with a 14-hour workday limit.
- Before taking a break – Truckers must take a 30-minute break after driving for a total of eight hours straight without stopping for more than a 30-minute break.
- In a week – No more than 70 hours of work every week, on average. After 34 hours of uninterrupted relaxation, they may resume training if the weekly maximum is attained.
The FMCSA adopted the hours-of-service limits in response to the major problem of fatigued driving. Statistics show that 8 to 15% of all accidents are caused directly by drowsy drivers, who are responsible for more than 750 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. When a driver has been behind the wheel for more than 10 continuous hours, the probability of an accident rises significantly. Commercial drivers, who are always on the road, are the most likely to suffer from this problem.
Numbers like this underscore the seriousness of the issue of overworked commercial truck drivers. In spite of this, the FMCSA continues to advocate for longer driving times for truckers. That’s despite the fact that 80% of those surveyed said fatigued truck drivers are a severe safety concern.