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All About American Trucking Association (ATA) & California’s Meal and Rest Periods

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What the Truck? 


California is famous for their strict meal and rest period requirements but fortunately for Trucking companies, the Golden State’s break laws no longer apply to drivers regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) hours-of-service requirements. 

For years, trucking companies have had a long history with California’s meal and rest period requirements.  Not to mention, the ugly penalties that come with it. On December 21st, a petition from the American Trucking Association (ATA) deemed California’s meal and rest periods no longer enforceable to any driver who is regulated by the DOT. 

Generally, the law requires employers to provide a 30-minute meal period to begin before five hours of work is completed. In addition, they must provide paid 10-minute breaks for every four hours worked. These rest and meal periods must also be uninterrupted.  

The hours-of-service regulations were set in place to provide safety to all drivers. They regulate when and how long you may drive to reduce driver fatigue. Specific limits were placed on the amount of time you may drive your truck and how many total hours you can work before you are no longer permitted to drive a commercial motor vehicle. Below is what is allowed under DOT regulation:  

14 Hour Driving Window 

This is the daily limit where you can drive up to 11 hours; the remaining hours may be used to fill up gas, inspection, waiting at a terminal, etc. A person will not be allowed to drive again until they have been off duty for at least 10 consecutive hours. *Commonly known as 11-14-10*  

11 Hour Driving Window 

You are only allowed to drive your truck up to the 11 total hours as stated above. Since June 30, 2013, driving is not permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty. A 30-minute break is mandatory for all drivers if they have driven 8 consecutive hours. 

On-Duty vs. Off-Duty 

Time spent On-Duty is part of your 14 hour limit of daily working hours. Any time you are working for a motor carrier whether paid or not is considered on-duty. Time spent at a plant, terminal, or facility is considered on-duty, along with loading or unloading. Any pre or post-trip inspections are on duty as well. 

Off-duty time is when you are relieved of all duty and responsibility for performing work. When you can walk away from your truck and leave it where it is parked to experience any fun activities that you choose to do; such as sightseeing, exercise, etc. 

This is a huge victory for trucking companies operating in California. 

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