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What are the Hours of Service rules for truck drivers?

Many Houston businesses rely on commercial trucks to transport products across state lines. Often, the companies which employ these truckers are required to comply with federal Hours of Service Regulations. These administrative rules are issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. According to the FMCSA's About Us section, one of the agency’s primary duties is to create and enforce commercial motor vehicle safety regulations throughout the country.

In its summary of the HOS rules, the FMCSA describes its regulations for property-carrying drivers. These truckers may only drive up to 11 hours at a time. This time limit only applies if the driver has had 10 consecutive off-duty hours. After coming on duty, these drivers may not drive after the 14th consecutive hour.

The following example will help to illustrate these rules:

A truck driver ends a shift at 5:00 p.m. That driver is off of work until 5:00 a.m. the next day. Twelve hours have elapsed, so the trucker may drive up to 11 hours, or until 4:00 p.m. If the driver took a break from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., it is possible for that driver to continue to operate a commercial motor vehicle until the 14-hour mark (7:00 p.m.). The HOS rules completely prohibit driving beyond 7:00 p.m. 

Rest breaks are also required by the HOS regulations. Truckers cannot drive longer than eight hours without at least a 30-minute sleeper berth break. Certain exceptions to this rule may apply for short-haul drivers.

It should be noted that the above description of rules is not exhaustive, and it applies only to property-carrying vehicles. Different regulations may apply for passenger-carrying commercial vehicles, such as buses.

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