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Explaining Hours Of Service Regulations



If one examines the reports of accidents involving commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), one starts to see patterns in terms of causation and contributing factors. One common contributing factor is that very often, a driver who causes an accident has failed to follow the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations that every commercial driver must observe. Both federal and state HOS regulations exist, and if a driver ignores them or tries to stretch their compliance, they are more likely to cause harm to other drivers on the road.

Federal Rules Are Straightforward

Federal HOS rules are for drivers who operate in interstate commerce (that is, driving through multiple states), while individual state rules govern those vehicles in intrastate commerce (within the state only). In addition, the federal rules differ slightly for drivers who carry property versus those who carry passengers, notably in terms of breaks required – cargo drivers must take a 30-minute break if they have driven for 8 hours without interruption, while passenger drivers have no such requirement.

For the most part, though, any differences between passenger and cargo drivers are minimal – for example, after 10 hours off-duty, a cargo driver may drive for up to 11 hours, while a passenger driver may only go for 10 hours. In addition, the exceptions to the regulations for adverse weather and short hauls are identical. Keeping these regulations uniform is generally helpful, presenting minimal tiny details for drivers to remember, and if the rules are enforced, drivers are better rested and can react more quickly on the road.

State HOS Regulations Differ

If one examines the Florida Hours of Service rules, by comparison, there is no division between passenger and cargo carriers, and the rules tend to allow a driver longer behind the wheel. For example, the Florida rules state that after 10 hours off, a driver may drive between 12 and 16 hours without penalty, while the federal rules only allow up to 11. This can potentially be hazardous if a driver does not get the proper amount of rest before driving such a long haul.

Regardless of the length of the haul, it is an unfortunate fact that many drivers ignore or stretch HOS regulations in favor of speed or efficiency. While the mere fact of breaking these regulations is not enough to render someone liable, it can be persuasive evidence in an accident case, because a driver not getting enough rest or off-duty time can generally be said to have slower reactions – which in turn, are more likely to cause accidents and injuries.

Contact A Tampa Commercial Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney

Accidents involving CMVs always have the potential to be deadly simply because so many of them weigh so much more than the average passenger car. However, factors like ignoring Hours of Service regulations can increase the odds of tragedy. If you have been injured in a CMV accident, a Tampa commercial motor vehicle accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can offer dedicated representation at what can be a frightening time. Contact our office today for a free consultation.



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