Driver Fatigue & Hours Of Service Rules In New Jersey
Drowsy driving caused 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries and 800 deaths in a recent year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The CDC indicates that up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers. Drowsy driving or driver fatigue is a serious issue in the trucking industry mainly because truck drivers often work late hours and odd shifts. They do this because they are usually under tight schedules, and their employers make the drivers push their limits even when they are too tired to drive safely. For this reason the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has introduced safety regulations for appropriate truck driver’s hours of service.
How Fatigue Affects Drivers
Fatigue makes a driver have a slower reaction time and a reduced ability to quickly assess situations. It makes a driver susceptible to stress and causes micro-sleeping. This makes it more likely for the driver to hit something or get involved in a collision with another vehicle.
Do These Rules Apply To You?
Normally, the FMSCA Hours of Service rules apply to all the people that drive commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. These rules apply to you if:
- You are driving a motor-vehicle that weighs 10,000 pounds with or without cargo
- You are driving a vehicle designed or used to carry 16 or more people (including the driver) not for compensation
- You are driving a vehicle that is designed or used to carry 9 or more passengers (including driver) for compensation
- You are transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards
The hours of service rules define the differences between passenger-carrying vehicles and property-carrying vehicles, and have rules for each type of vehicle.
What Is On Duty Time?
On-duty time with respect to truck drivers refers to the time the driver begins to work or is required to be ready to work, until the time the driver is relieved from work and all work responsibilities. The following are activities included in on-duty time:
- The time you spend at the shipper’s or carriers plant
- Time you spend waiting to be dispatched
- Time spent inspecting
- Time spent servicing or conditioning the commercial motor vehicle
- Time spent loading or unloading the vehicle
- Time spent testing for drugs or alcohol
- Time spent compensating for the motor carrier or employee
Remember that these rules are put in place for the safety of the truck driver and other drivers using the roads.
The Hour Of Service Rules
Property-carrying drivers are not allowed to drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty. They can only continue driving after they have taken 10 consecutive hours off-duty. Drivers should also take a 30 minute rest break after driving more than 8 hours. Property-carrying drivers are also required to drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
On the other hand, passenger carrying drivers can only drive for a maximum of 10 hours after being off duty for 8 hours. Passenger-carrying drivers are limited to a maximum of 14 hours of driving each day. Time taken for breaks, meals, and fuel stops are included within that 14 hour limit.