What's The Maximum Amount of "Driving Time" For Truck Drivers?

Driver fatigue is the leading cause of trucking accidents, and in an attempt to reduce the number of these accidents, the FMCSR contain hours-of-service regulations that specifically dictate the maximum number of hours that a driver can spend going about his business. In setting out these rules, the regulations differentiate between "driving time" and "on duty time." "Driving time" refers to the actual amount of time a driver spends "at the driving controls of a commercial motor vehicle in operation." "On duty time" is much broader, and it includes the time from when a driver "begins work or is required to be ready to work and it continues until the driver is relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work."

For the first time in 60 years, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration just revised the hours-of-service regulations in hopes of providing drivers with better opportunities to obtain sleep. The revised regulations, which become effective January 4, 2004, are based upon a 24-hour cycle and a 7-day cycle, and they adjust depending on the type of vehicle being driven. In general, the regulations provide that for property-carrying commercial vehicles, such as tractor-trailer trucks, drivers cannot drive more than 11 cumulative hours per day, and they can only be "on duty" for 14 hours per day. In between shifts, the driver must generally be off duty for at least 10 consecutive hours.

Moreover, a driver cannot accumulate more than 60 hours of on-duty time during 7 consecutive days or 70 hours during 8 consecutive days. It is important to keep in mind that this restriction applies to on-duty time, not driving time. In order to restart the 7/8-consecutive-day requirement, the driver must take 34 or more consecutive hours of off-duty time.

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