To help protect other motorists as well as commercial drivers themselves, there are strict laws in place that regulate how long a trucker can drive in a given time period. Three laws stipulate run (drive) time, and each supersedes the next.
History of the Laws
Trucker run time legislation has been pushed through mainly by an organization called P.A.T.T. (Parents Against Tired Truckers). The group was born after a family in New Jersey was killed in accident with an 18-wheeler. The driver of the big rig had fallen asleep at the wheel causing him to crash into the family’s vehicle. P.A.T.T. put pressure on the Department of Transportation to create the laws. Violating the run time laws is punishable by heavy fines and is considered a criminal offense.
Rules of the Road
· 70 hour rule – A driver can work no more than 70 hours in a week
· 14 hour rule – A driver can only work 14 hours in one 24 hours period
· 11 hour rule – A driver can only drive for 11 hours in one day
How it Works
All drivers are legally obligated to keep a log book that details each hour of activity on or off the job. There are four areas to be filled in the logbook: driving, on duty/working, sleeper berth, and off duty. Working is defined as time spent doing things related to the job including driving. After 14 hours from when a drive begins, the truck must be stopped for 10 hours. Employers are able to track this through the Qualcomm which records idle time, how many times the driver braked, speed, and location of the truck at all times.
The 11 hours that drivers have to run do not have to be consecutive, but must be within the 14. After the 70 hours are used up, a 36 hour restart must be taken. The restart is a time for truck drivers to recover and have a long rest. This time is often spent at home. The restart marks the commencement of a new time period.
Everything a driver does must be recorded into their log book. This is to ensure that drivers spend the required time off the road. This information is immediately available to law enforcement officials as well as the Department of Transportation via the logbook. The logbook is updated at each change of duty. In other words, when a driver changes activities say from refueling to taking a nap, the transfer must be noted by time in the log book.