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How Much Time Do Truck Drivers Spend on the Road?

Published on Nov 22, 2021 at 4:30 pm in Truck Accidents.

View of truck cab

Commercial truck drivers have the sometimes grueling job of driving across their own states, other states, or the span of the country to deliver goods to the correct destination. This could seem like a cut and dried job, but it isn’t—there are plenty of regulations that they have to follow, like hours.

Truckers are only allowed to spend so much time on the road when they’re hauling. They have to abide by federal hours of service regulations that are intended to keep them awake behind the wheel. Let’s take a look at how much time truck drivers spend on the road.

Federal Trucker Driving Time Regulations

There is only so much time that truck drivers are allowed to be on the road in one day, or in the span of a week. Truckers have to follow driving time regulations to ensure they’re rested and alert when they’re driving their rigs. While their time off might not be as restful or recuperating as it is meant to be, the guidelines help keep a standard so that truck drivers can’t drive consecutively for obscene amounts of time.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), these are the hours of service regulations for property-carrying drivers:

  • 11 hours of driving max after 10 consecutive hours off duty
  • 14 consecutive hours of being on duty max, then must go off duty
  • 8 consecutive hours of driving must be followed by at least a 30-minute non-driving break
  • May not drive after 60 hours on duty in 7 days, time restarts after 34 or more hours off duty
  • May not drive after 70 hours on duty in 8 days, time restarts after 34 or more hours off duty
  • May split the 10 hours off duty as long as 7 consecutive hours are spent in the sleeper berth and the other off-duty is at least 2 hours long
  • 11-hour max driving limit and 14-hour driving window can be extended by up to 2 hours in adverse driving conditions

There is an exemption to these hour regulations if the driver operates within 150 air-miles of their company, or the location they typically report to. They still cannot exceed 14 hours on duty. If the truck driver is using this exemption, they must report back to their company within 14 consecutive hours and stay within that radius of 150 air-miles.

All of these specifications can be confusing. If you’re a trucker and unsure if your driving times violate the regulations, you can use the FMCSA’s Educational Tool for Hours of Service to check if you’re within your limits.

What Qualifications Do Truckers Need to Drive?

When you start considering just how much time truck drivers spend on the road, you might be wondering what kind of qualifications they need to drive commercial trucks. They drive for hours on end, and the truck they’re driving is large, heavy, and takes special training to maneuver—so it makes sense that there would be licensing, and requirements involved in getting this position.

Here are the qualifications for being a commercial truck driver:

  • Obtaining a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)
  • Go to a school for truck driver training
  • Obtaining a Commercial Driving License (CDL)
  • Being at least 18 to drive within a state
  • Being at least 21 to cross state lines
  • Clear driving record
  • State residency
  • Social security number
  • Keeping insurance
  • Passing drug tests
  • Passing background tests

It could be comforting to know that truckers go through extensive training and licensing to be able to operate their large trucks because it reminds you that they are highly-trained. However, they can still make the same mistakes as regular drivers because at the end of the day, they’re human.

That’s why the hours of service regulations were put in place—the drivers would push to get their shipment to the destination in time, and in the process might spend too many consecutive hours driving. This is dangerous because it leads to fatigue, distraction, and accidents.

But some drivers are upset about the regulations. They might feel like it is reducing the amount of time they have to work or cutting into other jobs they can take immediately following. But the regulations are for their safety, and the safety of every other driver on the road.

Who Has to Follow the Hours of Service Regs?

Now that you understand the requirements for truck drivers and how much time they’re allowed to spend on the road while they’re on duty, it’s also important to know who has to follow these rules. You might spot any large truck on the road and assume they have to follow these regulations, but if they don’t fit into these qualifications, they might not.

According to the FMCSA, if a commercial motor vehicle fits any of these descriptions when they’re part of a business and is partaking in interstate commerce, they have to comply with the hours of service regulations:

  • The truck weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • The vehicle has a gross weight rating or gross combination rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • The truck is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers, which includes the driver, not for compensation
  • The truck is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers, which includes the driver, for compensation
  • The truck is transporting hazardous materials in a large enough quantity to require placards on the trailer

As mentioned above, if a truck fits any of these descriptions, then the driver must follow the hours of service regulations. This is to ensure a driver doesn’t spend too much time on the road and is the best possible condition to operate such a large vehicle.

The Solomon Law Group Can Help You

Sometimes, truck drivers spend too much time on the road. Whether they’re within regulations or breaking the rules, they can be susceptible to fatigue. When you’re sharing the road with a drowsy truck driver, or a trucker who is distracted, they could cause a wreck with you. That’s when you need the help of a truck accident lawyer from the Solomon Law Group.

We’ll look into what happened, and one of the aspects we’ll investigate is the trucker’s time logs. You can trust us to support you through your truck accident claim and get you justice for what happened. Reach out to our office today so we can discuss your potential claim.

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