Challenge to mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers fails

For long-haul truck drivers, the job isn't just about getting from point A to point B anymore. It's also about complying with detailed hours of service requirements, which means keeping meticulous logbooks.

One of those requirements has recently come into question: the mandatory 30-minute break rule. Long-haul truckers subject to the rule can't go longer than 8 consecutive hours without taking a half-hour break.

Federal hours of service regulations have required the break since 2013. Last month, the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration denied a request to get rid of it.

Hours of service rules

The 30-minute break is just one of several key rules restricting how long commercial property-carrying drivers can spend behind the wheel. Others include:

  • The 14-hour rule: Truckers can't drive after a 14-hour "window" starting when they go on duty. The window restarts after 10 consecutive off-duty hours.
  • The 11-hour rule: Within the 14-hour window, drivers are limited to 11 total hours of driving time.
  • The 60/70 limit: Truckers can't drive more than 60 hours in a 7-day period or 70 hours in an 8-day period. These periods restart after 34 hours off duty.

These rules are aimed at improving safety by reducing driver fatigue.

However, inspectors from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance have complained that the 30-minute break rule is unnecessary and hard to enforce. They also claim it pressures truck drivers to falsify their records - for example, by doing other non-driving duties during the break but still recording it as off duty.

To make matters more complicated, the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration has issued numerous exemptions to the rule. Inspectors sometimes struggle with determining when these exemptions apply.

Under the current rules, violations of the 30-minute break rule carry the same weight as breaking the 60/70 rule or falsifying logbooks.

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