What is the purpose of hours of service regulations?

Just like drivers of small personal vehicles, drivers of large trucks and semis get tired when they have been operating their rigs for too long. Wisconsin residents may have seen rows of big rigs lined up along the highway or at road stops when the night sets in and many are too exhausted to keep on rolling along. Truck drivers need their rest so that they can stay safe while operating their vehicles, and their rest periods are mandated by federal regulations.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is responsible for maintaining the safety of commercial carriers on American roads. Pursuant to this responsibility FMCSA requires drivers to take periods of rest so that they do not become unsafe while operating. The regulations that govern these rest periods are known as “hours of service” regulations and this post will briefly discuss how they work.

A driver who hauls cargo in their truck may not operate their vehicle for more than 11 hours and may only operate for this long of a stretch of time if they have taken 10 hours off prior to beginning their extended driving period. The FMCSA regulations stipulate when drivers may rest in their vehicles’ berths and when their rest periods must be taken out of their trucks. Drivers must take sleep breaks as well as breaks from driving to ensure that they stay sharp while performing their operational duties.

Different regulations apply to drivers of buses and other vehicles that carry people. The purpose of the hours of service regulations is to prevent tired drivers from causing crashes with other vehicles. Exhausted driving is a threat to everyone on the road and the hours of service regulations discussed in this post may come into play if a truck driver causes a vehicle crash due to exhaustion.