Working Hours Regulations for Truck Drivers in the US: A Guide      

Truck drivers play a crucial role in the country’s economy. They are the backbone of the transportation and logistics industry, ensuring the timely delivery of goods and materials. Naturally, the state considers them essential workers.

However, drivers face many challenges, from work-related safety issues to underpayment. One of the issues that almost all truckers face is overexertion or fatigue from working long hours.

Lack of rest takes a significant toll on their health, which can lead to injuries in the long run. So the question is, how long can truckers drive? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sleep deprivation is responsible for about 40% of road accidents.

Who determines the driving hours, and what are the various regulations? Do they have adequate rest periods? Continue reading to find out.

Who decides the working hours?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration decides the driving hours in the USA. It determines safety standards, maintains records, and suggests ways of reducing injuries and crashes.

Regulations regarding the hours of service

The FMCSA has strict regulations regarding driving hours. Driving a truck on the road involves plenty of risk and responsibility, and even the slightest mistake can cause an accident or injury.

The regulations exist for many reasons, and one of those is stopping fatigued drivers from driving trucks. They decide the driver’s working hours, whose objective is to ensure drivers remain alert.

To whom do the rules apply?

The rules are valid for commercial vehicles that operate between states. Commercial vehicles are those with a weight of 4,536 kilograms or more or with a gross vehicle rating of at least 4,536 kilograms. However, the regulations do not apply to personal uses of commercial vehicles, for example, moving your furniture from one apartment to another.

What are the driving limits for truckers?

The FMCSA lays down clear guidelines on the number of hours truckers can drive and resting time. The body divides the driving window limits into 11 hours and 14 hours, and duty limits to 60 hours for seven days and 70 hours for eight days.

Understanding the 14 hours limit

All drivers must adhere to this limit, which allows them to drive for 14 consecutive hours after being off-duty for more than 10 hours. This period includes lunch time, nap, or off-duty time.

But within these 14 hours, truckers can drive for a maximum of 11 hours. Once the driver completes 11 hours, they must not operate again for another 10 hours. This schedule gives them enough time to rest, relax, and get enough sleep without affecting their performance.

The 30 minutes break requirement

The rules also require truckers to take at least 30 minutes off after driving for eight continuous hours. For example, they could work eight hours, take a 30 minutes break, and then complete the rest three hours, totaling 11 hours.

The drivers have a second option of driving for three hours, taking a half-hour break, and continuing driving for eight hours until they complete 11 hours. However, under no circumstances should they exceed the 11-hour limit.

Overtiredness, sleep deprivation, and exhaustion can be extremely dangerous to drivers since they drive huge vehicles for long periods. Without sufficient rest, they might place themselves and other drivers at risk.

This is why it is important to understand the answer to, “how long can truckers drive?” in order to be on the safe side. The above-mentioned key details should help you understand the various regulations laid out by the government of the US on the working hours of truck drivers.