The hours that a commercial driver is allowed to be behind the wheel are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, with different restrictions on those carrying passengers versus those transporting goods. These hours of service rules are in place in order to help ensure the safety of others traveling on the road around commercial drivers, as well as of any passengers that they may be transporting.
Commercial drivers that transport goods are limited to driving 11 hours after having at least 10 hours off of duty. Passenger-carrying drivers are limited to driving 10 hours after having at least 8 consecutive hours off. The time is also limited according to when the person reported to work. A property-carrying driver is not allowed to drive beyond the 14th hour of reporting for duty, while a passenger-carrying driver is not allowed to drive beyond the 15th hour of reporting in to work.
The law also regulates rest breaks and sleeping time. Property transporters are only able to drive if they have had a 30-minute break within eight hours or less. Passenger drivers may not drive after working 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight. Commercial drivers have the same rule, but may restart a 7-day or 8-day consecutive period over after having 34 consecutive hours off of work. Drivers who have a sleeper berth must take eight consecutive hours off in it as well as two separate hours off inside of the sleeper berth.
The federal trucking regulations are designed to minimize the risk of accidents caused by driver fatigue. Drivers who violate these rules place both themselves and others in danger. In the event a driver causes an accident, those who are injured may choose to file personal injury lawsuits seeking damages against both the negligent driver as well as the commercial carrier that employs them.