Hours of Service (HOS) rules are some of the most important safety rules that truck drivers face and are a focus for many experienced Kentucky truck accident lawyers. These rules limit the amount of time a driver can spend behind the wheel and the amount of time a driver can spend “on duty,” whether or not he or she is actually driving. The purpose of these limits is to ensure that drivers get sufficient rest and sleep, thus decreasing the risk of fatigue-related truck crashes.
Currently, a controversial set of new HOS requirements is scheduled to take effect July 1, 2013, although whether the rules will start on that date and what they will require is still being discussed in court. If the planned rule is implemented in its current form, it will impose new requirements on truck drivers, including:
- Limits on the “restart” period. Currently, drivers are limited to a total of 60 or 70 “on-duty” hours in a week. A “week” can be restarted by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty. The new rule limits the use of the 34-hour restart to only once every 7 days and requires that the 34 hours cover at least two periods between 1 am and 5 am.
- 30-minute break requirement. Every 8 consecutive hours on duty, a driver must take at least a 30-minute break. The driver may still be in the truck during this time – for instance, if he or she is “team driving” with another driver – but the driver may not be the one operating the truck.
- Enhanced penalties. Trucking companies that allow drivers to break the new rules could face up to $11,000 in fines, and drivers could face up to $2,750 in fines. Trucking companies and drivers that break the rules could also face increased liability in court if their rule-breaking results in a crash.