Truckers play a crucial role in the USA’s economy and are a backbone of the transportation and logistics sector. Statistics show that the trucking industry has a total revenue of almost 732.3 billion USD. However, despite their importance in the economy, there is a noticeable shortage of truckers. According to the American Trucking Association, the US has a shortage of almost 80,000 truck drivers.
The reasons behind this shortage are numerous, but one of them is overexertion or fatigue. The question then is: how long can truck drivers drive? Most drivers complain of constant tiredness and sleep deprivation because of the working hours.
It is necessary to limit the hours a trucker can drive so they can get enough rest and sleep. Without that, they put themselves and other drivers at risk. What are some regulations regarding truckers working hours? Read on to know.
Impact of sleep deprivation on truck drivers
The impact of sleep deprivation on truck drivers is more than what some might expect. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), in a study undertaken a few years back, found sleep deprivation to be the cause behind 13% of all accidents.
Long haul drivers often get less sleep than required, affecting their focus, making them highly prone to distraction, and significantly slowing their reaction time. According to experts, sleeping less than eight hours (the recommended time) puts the drivers in a condition similar to intoxicated persons.
Even the slightest distraction can be dangerous for truckers, especially because they handle gigantic vehicles with huge loads.
Working hours for drivers
The FMCSA decides the working hours for drivers, known as hours of service regulations. Truckers should adhere to these regulations as long as they drive commercial motor vehicles.
The hours of service regulations include the frequency and duration of working hours, which comprise 14 hours driving window and an 11-hour driving limit.
14 hours driving window limit
It is the daily permissible limit for all truckers, which they must always adhere to. In the 14 hours, drivers can drive for 11 hours, but only if they have been off-duty for more than 10 hours.
The 14 hours limit starts when truckers begin driving the vehicle and includes a 30 minutes lunch break with a nap. However, all drivers can operate continuously for 11 hours if 8 hours have passed since they last worked.
Why is a 30 minutes break necessary?
Driving a truck is hard work and leaves truckers tired physically and mentally. The 30 minutes break allows you to have a meal, rest, and relax before working again.
However, the half-hour rule does not apply for short-haul operations, where the driving route is within 100 miles of the reporting location.
What are the weekly working requirements?
FMCSA also has a weekly working requirement limit for truck drivers, in which commercial drivers cannot drive more than 60 hours on seven consecutive days. However, this rule applies to companies that have a 7-days weekly operation.
For companies that don’t run their vehicles 7 -days a week, drivers can operate for 70 hours for eight days. Drivers cannot operate trucks or other commercial vehicles once they have driven for 70 hours on eight consecutive days.
Knowing how long truckers can drive is necessary to avoid fatigue, stress, sleep deprivation, and overexertion. Sufficient rest, relaxation, and sleep ensure they are well-rested, drive their vehicles safely, and continue to contribute to the country’s economy.