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What are the federal rest requirements for truck drivers?

In order to prevent accidents from sleep-deprived truck drivers, the federal government institutes strict regulations on how many consecutive hours a trucker can operate his or her vehicle for. This helps prevent truck drivers from falling asleep at the wheel and getting into accidents. Violations relating to federal rest requirements are often important facts in personal injury claims against negligent truckers and trucking companies that are responsible for such crashes.

For truck drivers carrying property, they are only permitted to drive for 11 consecutive hours after having 10 hours of consecutive time off. Property hauling truck drivers must take at least one 30-minute period of rest every eight hours. As for truck drivers carrying passengers, they are limited to 10 hours of consecutive driving time following eight hours of consecutive rest.

With regard to time limitations that apply to being "on-duty," property drivers cannot continue driving following their 14th hour of being on duty (even if they have not driven for 10 or 11 consecutive hours). For passenger vehicle drivers, this limitation ends at the 15th hour of on-duty time.

Both property and passenger drivers are limited to 60 hours on-duty within a seven-day time period, or 70 hours on-duty within an eight-day time period. Also, both types of drivers who are taking advantage of the sleeper birth provision must spend at least eight hours per day making use of the sleeper birth, and that time cannot be split up into segments of less than two hours each.

New Jersey residents hurt in accidents caused by truck drivers and trucking companies that fail to adhere to the above and other federal guidelines may have viable claims for personal injury damages in civil court. For this reason, records relating to rest time and on-duty time could play an important role in civil lawsuits that seek to hold a negligent truck driver or trucking company responsible for damages in a crash.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "Hours-of-Service Rules," accessed Nov. 13, 2015

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