Drowsy truck drivers pose a significant safety risk to themselves and others on the road. Fatigue can impair a driver’s reaction time, decision-making ability, and overall attentiveness, increasing the likelihood of accidents. Long hours on the road, irregular sleep schedules, and demanding deadlines can all contribute to driver exhaustion. To address the problem of drowsy truck drivers, regulatory entities have implemented Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, which prescribe maximum driving times and mandatory rest periods. Despite these measures, some drivers may still experience fatigue due to various factors, such as sleep disorders, lifestyle choices, and pressure to meet tight deadlines. The trucking industry, regulatory authorities, and drivers must prioritize adequate rest and promote a safety culture to mitigate the dangers associated with drowsy driving.
Understanding and complying with Hours of Service (HOS) regulations is crucial for the safety and well-being of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers and the public. HOS regulations dictate the maximum time drivers can be on duty, including driving time, and establish the necessary number and duration of rest periods. By adhering to these guidelines, drivers can remain alert and focused on the road. With recent updates to the HOS regulations, it is essential for carriers, drivers, and other stakeholders to be aware of the changes and their implications for the transportation industry.
“Hours of service” refers to the maximum time allowed for drivers to be on duty, which includes driving time, as well as outlining the required number and duration of rest periods. This aims to ensure that drivers remain awake and alert. Generally, all carriers and drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) must adhere to the HOS regulations detailed in 49 CFR 395.
A summary of HOS regulations for property- and passenger-carrying drivers are available for review.
HOS Final Rule Update On June 1, 2020, the FMCSA amended four provisions within the hours of service regulations in order to offer increased flexibility for drivers without compromising safety. Motor carriers were expected to abide by the updated HOS regulations starting September 29, 2020.
Key Changes Short-haul Exception
- The short-haul exception has been expanded to 150 air miles, allowing a 14-hour work shift within this exception.
- Adverse Driving Conditions – Exception The driving window has been extended by up to two additional hours during adverse driving conditions.
- 30-Minute Break Requirement – A break of at least 30 consecutive minutes is required after eight cumulative hours of driving time (rather than on-duty time), with an on-duty/not driving period qualifying as the mandated break.
- Sleeper Berth Provision – The sleeper berth exception has been altered to permit a driver to fulfill the 10-hour minimum off-duty requirement by spending a minimum of 7 hours in the berth, combined with an off-duty period of at least 2 hours, either inside or outside the berth. As long as the two periods total a minimum of 10 hours, neither period will count towards the 14-hour driving window.
Educational Tool for Hours of Service (ETHOS) – The FMCSA introduced a new online tool enabling users to input driver records of duty status in order to identify potential violations under the updated hours of service regulations.
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If you or a loved one suffered serious harm due to an accident caused by a drowsy truck driver, contact our trucking accident law firm today for a free case review. You or your family member could receive significant monetary compensation for your injuries or for the loss of a loved one.
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