It’s not hard to sympathize with commercial truck drivers when you consider how difficult their working conditions are: long, lonely hours on the road away from their families for days at a time, sitting in cramped conditions, dealing with the stress of traffic all day long, day after day. But when a tired or inattentive trucker causes an accident that takes innocent lives or leaves a person with catastrophic injuries, that’s where our sympathy ends.
The fact that the terrible working conditions, and particularly fatigue, is a leading cause of commercial trucking accidents is well-recognized by both the trucking industry and the state and federal laws that regulate it.
In an attempt to combat this danger to the truckers and the public alike, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) promulgated rules that limit the hours a commercial trucker can drive.
The FMCSA is a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”). In addition to relevant state laws, almost every aspect of the trucking industry is subject to rules and regulations passed and enforced by the FMCSA.
The FMCSA was established in 2000. Its sole role is to regulate the trucking industry.
Hours of Service and the 60/70 Rule
One of the major areas of the trucking industry that the FMCSA regulates is the hours that commercial truckers can be on the road.
To offset the effects of cumulative fatigue, drivers are not allowed to drive if they have been on duty for 60 hours over the last 7 days, or 70 hours over the last 8 days. Which rule applies (the 60/7 or 70/8) depends on who they are driving for.
If a trucker is driving for a carrier that does not operate 7 days a week, then the applicable rule is the 60/7 hour rule. If the trucker works for a carrier that operates 7 days a week, then the 70/8 rule applies.
The rule basically means that a commercial truck driver can only be on duty for 60 hours within any 7-day period, after which he cannot drive until his hours are below 60 (either with a 34-hour reset or by waiting for hours to “drop off”). The rule works the same way for the 70/8 rule: a truck driver can only be on duty for 70 hours within any 8-day period; after which, he must wait until his hours are below 70 (either with a 34-hour reset or by waiting for hours to “drop off”).
Unfortunately, not all trucking companies enforce these rules and some encourage their employees not to follow them. And, that’s when accidents can happen.
What Is the DOT 80 Hour Rule?
The DOT 80 hour rule only applies to intrastate truck drivers operating under Title 13 of the California Code of Regulations Part 121.5(a).
The rules go as follows. A truck driver operating within the DOT 80-hour rule cannot:
- Work over 80 hrs. In an 8-consecutive-day period.
- Work no more than 16 hrs.
- Drive more than 12 hrs.
- Take mandatory 10 hrs. Off duty before starting a new work period.
- Take a mandatory 34 hrs. Off duty before starting a new 8-consecutive-day work period.
Truck Accident Attorneys in Louisiana
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, call the Day Law Group. We are experienced personal injury and truck accident attorneys. We fight hard to get our clients the compensation they deserve, and we offer FREE consultations. We have offices in Baton Rouge, and we serve Baker, Denham, Gonzales, Port Allen, Prairieville, New Orleans, and Zachary. So call (225) 465-1232 ToDay to schedule your free consultation or contact us here.