What Are Hours of Service Regulations?

Although drowsy driving is incredibly dangerous and has caused many deaths and injuries over recent years, there are still truckers in California and all across the United States who overextend themselves and drive while fatigued, putting others at great risk of harm. Why? In short, time is an important asset in the trucking industry. Less sleep means faster deliveries, and faster deliveries mean more money.

However, truckers don’t have free reign when it comes to their hours on the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces Hours of Service (HOS) regulations which dictate how much work time a trucker can have within a set period.

As of July 2013, truck drivers must comply with the following provisions:

  • Truck drivers must take a half hour break during the first eight hours of a shift;
  • A work week cannot exceed 70 hours; and
  • Upon completion of a 70 hour work week, truck drivers must rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two nights of sleep during natural sleep hours.

Enforcement of these provisions is usually carried out by designated Department of Transportation (DOT) officers, although ordinary police officers may conduct inspections as well. Truckers may be pulled into weigh stations for random vehicle inspections, or pulled over by DOT or police officers for a random checkup.

In an inspection, the officer checks the driver’s log book, which should contain a factual record of service hours. If the log book contains any discrepancies or indications of violating HOS rules, the driver may be disallowed from driving his/her truck for a certain length of time under risk of further penalty.

Since log books are paper-based, it is very easy for drivers to forge their record of their time spent behind the wheel. Some even keep a falsified second copy to give to authorities in inspections. According to surveys conducted by the FMCSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), anywhere between 25 and 75 percent of all truck drivers have violated HOS regulations at least once.

Why would truck drivers not only put others in danger, but also put themselves at risk of losing their livelihood just to cut down on their times? Unfortunately, some companies give their employees incentive or even push them to violate HOS regulations for the sake of profit, even though such negligent actions clearly could contribute to an accident.

If you or someone you love has suffered considerable losses in a Sacramento truck accident, please contact the compassionate personal injury attorneys at Demas Law Group, P.C. We can provide you with the reliable legal counsel you need to get the compensation you deserve. For more information, please call us today at (916) 444-0100.