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What are hours of service regulations?

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In some cases, drowsy driving can be just as deadly as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Commercial truck drivers have a heightened risk of driving while tired, as they are often under tight deadlines.

As explained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, hours of service regulations put time limits on how much a trucker can drive over a given period. They also mandate rest breaks to ensure drivers are alert and aware on the road. Here are a few of the rules truck drivers must follow when behind the wheel.

30-minute rest breaks

After driving for eight hours without stopping, drivers must take at least a 30-minute rest break. Drivers can remain on duty during this time, but they are not permitted to drive their vehicle until the entire break has elapsed. They can also spend the time off-duty, either eating a meal or sleeping.

14-hour driving limit

Commercial truck drivers have a period lasting 14 consecutive hours to do their driving. After 10 hours off duty, the 14-hour limit begins as soon as the driver becomes active again. This 14-hour period covers on and off-duty actions, but the actual driving limit is as explained below.

11-hour driving limit

If a driver has spent 10 hours off duty, meaning not driving their vehicle or performing work tasks, they can drive for up to 11 hours at a time.

There is an exception to the above rules. Short-haul truckers who work within a 150-mile radius of their central reporting location can drive for up to 14 hours without incurring fines. However, these drivers are still urged to play it safe to avoid injuries to themselves and others.