Truck driver fatigue is an important issue, or rather problem, when it comes to highway safety. Although most truckers are responsible and don’t take chances behind the wheel, there are some who put both themselves and other motorists at risk by driving without adequate rest.

Federal law has sought to address the problem of truck driver fatigue by establishing the hours of service rules. These rules impose driving limits for commercial motor vehicle drivers on a daily and weekly basis, and also require periodic rest breaks. Here, we’ll take a brief look at these rules and a recent change that will hopefully have a positive impact on compliance with the rules.

The hours of service rules are slightly different for property-carrying drivers and passenger-carrying drivers. Below, we summarize the main rules for the former:  

  • No driving for more than 11 hours total after 10 consecutive hours of duty;
  • No driving after the 14th consecutive hour on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty;
  • No driving if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last break of at least 30 minutes; and
  • No driving after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days—the driver’s work-week may be restarted by taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

All truck drivers and their employers are required to comply with these rules, and failure to do so can result in sanctions from federal regulators. In the past, the problem with compliance is that it has been too easy to circumvent the rules. In our next post, we’ll look at why and what has recently been done to help address the problem.