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Understanding the FMCSA's Hours of Service Regulations

On January 1, 2000, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was established as a division of the United States Department of Transportation. Its primary purpose is to ensure public safety by enforcing regulations that work to prevent commercial motor vehicle accidents. To carry out this objective, the FMCSA works with various state and federal law enforcement agencies to promote safe driving practices.

The “Hours of Service of Drivers Final Rule” was implemented by the FMCSA to legally prohibit “drowsy” or “fatigued” driving. These regulations apply to any truck driver operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) for business and interstate commerce.

Drivers who experience fatigue exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Exhaustion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Drifting or weaving between lanes
  • Missing exits or ignoring warning signs
  • Yawning
  • Blinking frequently

While any motor vehicle accident can have critical consequences, a collision involving a CMV typically leads to catastrophic injuries and fatalities. To combat the increasing number of annual fatalities, the FMCSA created laws addressing the number of hours a truck driver can legally be on duty.

Hours of Service Regulations

These regulations exist because it’s not unusual for drivers to skip breaks, off-duty days, and even hours of sleep just to meet demanding company deadlines. When drivers are sleep-deprived, they have difficulty making good judgements and safe choices, so it’s essential that truckers pull over if they begin noticing any symptoms of fatigue.

Per the FMCSA, the Hours of Service regulations for property-carrying drivers include:

  • 11-Hour Driving Limit: A trucker can drive 11 consecutive hours following a 10 hour off-duty break.
  • 14-Hour Driving Limit: A trucker can drive up to 14 hours so long as they don’t exceed 11 consecutive hours. This allows a driver to get lunch and take breaks to rest.
  • Rest Breaks: A trucker can’t drive more than 8 consecutive hours without taking a 30-minute break.
  • 60/70-Hour Driving Limit: A trucker can’t legally drive more than 60/70 hours if they have been on duty for 7/8 consecutive days.

Your Personal Injury Case

Statistically, symptoms of fatigue are directly and circumstantially responsible for at least 40% of all commercial vehicle accidents in Arizona. Truckers and trucking companies are governed by strict federal and state laws that exist to prevent negligent driving behaviors, most specifically: driver fatigue, speeding, aggressive driving, and driving under the influence.

It’s important to take legal action immediately if you’ve been injured in an accident due to the negligence of a fatigued truck driver. The statute of limitations in Arizona allows truck accident victims 2 years to file a personal injury claim. Because truck collision injuries are often severe or catastrophic in nature, filing a personal injury claim against a negligent party may help facilitate your recovery by providing for your medical and financial needs.

At Alex & Saavedra, P.C., our Phoenix truck accident lawyers have been representing personal injury claims for over 43 years. When you schedule a consultation, our legal team can evaluate your case and help you identify which negligent parties should be held liable for your injuries. Our objective as a firm is to guide our clients through each step of this complicated legal process and use the full extent of our resources and litigation experience to help them maximize their claims. We make certain to protect our clients by negotiating with insurance companies, trucking companies, and regulatory agencies to ensure our clients’ best interests are effectively represented.

Contact our Phoenix truck accident attorneys at (602) 483-6114 to schedule a case evaluation.