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Hours of Service: Combating the Effects of Sleep Apnea

The Commercial Truck Driver Hours of Service rules that went into effect in July 2013 were aimed at reducing the dangerous effects of sleep apnea, among other targets. With the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reporting that there were 100,000 accidents and 1,550 deaths in the US due to driver fatigue, it's really no wonder that the government is eager to take active steps to make our roads safer.

Commercial Truck Driver Hours of Service Rules Explained

The FMCSA's Truck Driver Hours of Service rules are aimed to reduce the dangers of sleep apneaCommercial truck drivers have been subject to the hours of service regulations since the summer of 2013, so it is important that truck accident lawyers are well versed in them. In a nutshell, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules, which govern truckers and trucking companies, dictates the following:

  • A commercial truck driver can work a maximum of 14-hours per shift, after which they must be off duty or in their truck's sleeping cabin for 10 hours.
  • When working a 14-hour shift, a driver can only drive a maximum of 11 hours. The other time can be spent in other, non-driving, work-related activities.
  • A truck driver may not drive more than 60-hours in a seven day period, or 70 hours in an eight day period.

Certainly the above bullet points are a simplification of the rules, and there are circumstances where the above do not apply. If you'd like more detailed information about the Commercial Truck Driver Hours of Service rules, please free feel to call my office or contact us online.

View the full hours of service rule on the FMCSA website.

Effects of Sleep Apnea

While it's well documented that sleep apnea is a leading cause of sleep deprivation, it is important to highlight the connection between sleep deprivation and the potential driving safety hazards.

The following are just some of the more prominent effects of sleep deprivation. It's clear to appreciate how dangerous it can be for a truck driver hauling an 80,000 lbs. load to suffer from any of these degradations in performance.

  • Increased reaction time

  • Decreased alertness

  • Increased likelihood of driver error

Given that the FMCSA's Hours of Service rule is specifically meant to get truck drivers to rest regularly and get more effective sleep, it is clear that any drivers suffering from sleep apnea will be safer drivers by complying with the regulation.