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Hours of Service Rules for Truck Drivers

In an effort to address some of the safety issues in the trucking industry, namely, drowsy driving car accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has introduced several hours of service rules (HOS). The rules have been enacted to protect commercial truck drivers, and others on the road, from drowsy driving accidents. On December 28, 2011, the FMCSA introduced a new provision called the 30-minute break rule, which requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute break after eight consecutive hours of driving.

The provision specifically applies to actual driving time, which means that drivers are not required to take a break after eight hours if some of that time was spent  on non-driving tasks like fueling, loading, or unloading cargo. However, once a trucker has been driving for eight hours, he or she must take a 30-minute break, or they will receive an HOS violation.

Important Facts About the 30-Minute Rule

The following facts provide additional information, as well as some provisions and exceptions to, the 30-minute rule:

  • Unless you fall into a category that exempts you from the rule, it is mandatory that you take a 30-minute break after eight hours of driving.
  • You must take the full 30 minutes, meaning that you may not take two separate 15-minute breaks. To avoid any HOS violations, you must take a single break for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  • You may perform other non-driving tasks after eight consecutive hours of driving, but you may not drive again after eight hours unless you have taken the required 30-minute break.
  • The 30-minute break is deducted from the available 14 hours that truck drivers are allowed to work on a daily basis.
  • The 30-minute break rule only applies to cargo vehicles.
  • Drivers that are not required to take the 30-minute break include those who qualify for the 100 air-mile radius and the 150 air-mile radius.
  • The 30-minute break rule is only valid if the driver logs the time as “off duty” or “sleeper berth.” Once a driver is officially off-duty, he or she is free to do other activities.
  • Certain drivers must log their 30-minute break differently. For example, hazmat drivers are required to take the break and log it as “off-duty.” Drivers transporting Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 explosives are required to take the 30-minute break, but they must log it is as “on-duty.”
  • Drivers who use the oil-field exemption are not exempt from the 30-minute break rule.

To help log time more efficiently and improve safety, truckers are required to install electronic monitors that track their time. This will help avoid HOS violations, but not all truckers and fleet companies are thrilled about this new device. Many of the smaller carriers in particular feel that the cost to install and maintain the device is a financial burden. In addition, they are concerned about its impact on salaries.

Ultimately, the rule was put into place to ensure that truck drivers are not logging too many hours behind the wheel on too little sleep. Electronic monitors and smartphone apps like KeepTruckin are very user friendly, making it easy to log the mandatory 30-minute break. The app also notifies a truck driver if they are at risk of receiving an HOS violation.

Middlesex County Truck Accident Lawyers at Davis & Brusca, LLC Represent Victims of Truck Accidents

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, it is in your best interest to contact the experienced Middlesex County truck accident lawyers at Davis & Brusca, LLC. We will determine who is responsible for your injuries and seek the maximum financial compensation that you deserve. Protecting your rights is our top priority. To schedule a free consultation, do not hesitate to call us at 609-786-2540 or contact us online.

Our offices are located in Princeton and Trenton, New Jersey, where we represent clients throughout the state in Middlesex County, Essex County, Hudson County, Union County, Morris County, and Hunterdon County.