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Understanding Department of Transportation driving limits

The United States Department of Transportation limits both the number of hours and days a trucker may drive in a given week. It's thought that these rules ensure truckers are not only adequately rested, but capable of operating their trucks more safely as well.

Current DOT regulations allow truckers to drive up to 11-hours, but work no more than 14 total hours during any one day. The difference in time is intended to be taken for breaks, meals or refueling. DOT regulations require that truckers take a mandatory 30-minute break once they have been working for eight straight hours.

Every 14-hour period of work is considered a duty period. Truckers cannot start the next one until they have been off duty for at least 10 hours. Furthermore, they are not permitted to work more than 60 hours in any 7-day period.

Additionally, it's important to note that the 7-day period can only be restarted every 168 hours. During that span of time, the driver is required to have taken at least 34 consecutive hours off.

In cases in which truck drivers are returning to the same terminal from which they originated, they are permitted to increase their full work day up to 16 hours, although only 11 of those can be spent driving.

In situations involving adverse driving conditions that prevent drivers from reaching their intended destination within the 11 hours, there is an exception to the aforementioned guidelines. Truckers are allowed to drive for an additional two hours in these cases; however, only up to the 14th hour from which they came on duty.

If caught, truckers found to have violated driving limits may be forced to pull over on the side of the road. In these cases, it's only after they've accumulated adequate rest time to be back in compliance with DOT regulations that they may be allowed to operate their truck again.

In such cases, both the trucker and one's employer are subject to both state and local law enforcement fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on the severity of the violation. Criminal charges may also be filed if it is proven they knowingly violated regulations as well.

If you have been injured in an accident you suspect might be attributable to driver negligence, a Houston, Texas, truck accident attorney can provide advice and guidance in your legal matter.

Source:, "DOT freight and trucking hours of service limit regulations," Holly Schubert, Feb. 02, 2017

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Brian Jensen

Representation in the Houston Area with 3 Convenient Locations:

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