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Hours of Service Violations and How They Relate to Truck Accidents and Drowsy Driving

Commercial trucking is a growing industry in America, with more tractor-trailers on the roads each year. According to one source, there are currently about 4.06 million 18-wheelers operating in the U.S. as of 2021. With that in mind, keeping commercial truck drivers and other motorists safe is of the utmost importance.[1]

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the agency responsible for overseeing trucking companies and truck operation safety, hence their creation of hours-of-service regulations. Such regulations provide a rules-based system for how many hours a truck operator can drive in a given period. Such rules also provide provisions for mandatory breaks that the truck driver must take to prevent fatigue.

From extensive research and documentation, the FMCSA knows there is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between drowsy driving and truck accidents. The incentive behind the hours-of-service regulations was to create a system that reduced driver drowsiness and prevented truck accidents.

Common Hours-of-Service Violations

Hours-of-service regulations apply to most commercial vehicle operators who transport cargo or passengers. Such individuals include those operating 18-wheeler trucks, delivery trucks, passenger buses, and trains. The hours-of-service regulations vary somewhat across different regions and with different vehicles, but the basic regulations include the following, directly quoted from the FMCSA:[2]

  • “May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.”
  • “May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.”
  • “Drivers must take a 30-minute break when they have driven for a period of 8 cumulative hours without at least a 30-minute interruption. The break may be satisfied by any non-driving period of 30 consecutive minutes (i.e., on-duty not driving, off-duty, sleeper berth, or any combination of these taken consecutively).”
  • “May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.”
  • “Drivers may split their required 10-hour off-duty period, as long as one off-duty period (whether in or out of the sleeper berth) is at least 2 hours long and the other involves at least 7 consecutive hours spent in the sleeper berth. All sleeper berth pairings MUST add up to at least 10 hours. When used together, neither time period counts against the maximum 14- hour driving window.”
  • “Drivers are allowed to extend the 11-hour maximum driving limit and 14-hour driving window by up to 2 hours when adverse driving conditions are encountered.”

The above rules are the most basic regulations found in the hours-of-service documentation. Unfortunately, the quoted regulations are also the most frequently violated by commercial truckers. When an accident occurs, and the victim(s) of it can prove it was caused by a trucker who violated any or the above regulations, or when a trucker is pressured by their employer to violate regulations and then gets in an accident, all can be grounds for a legal case.

In the Event of an Accident, Seek Legal Help from NRS

NRS Injury Law is Ohio’s leading injury law firm specializing in trucking accidents. One can read up on how NRS truck accident attorneys approach such cases. If you’ve been involved in such an accident, call NRS Injury law today at 855.468.4878 or fill out our convenient online contact form.


[1] Zippia. “Surprising Facts About Trucking.” Zippia, 2022.

[2] FMCSA. “Summary of Hours of Service Regulations.” Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 2022.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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