The hours of services rules directly affect the commercial vehicle driver's operation. So, being aware of them and respecting these rules is important to prevent putting themselves and others at risk.
Because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) itself regulates how many hours commercial vehicle drivers may drive per day or per week. In that way, they want to eliminate driving while being fatigued on the US roads.
According to the HOS regulations, commercial vehicle drivers are required to record their hours using an ELD to ensure that they stay compliant with the hours of service regulations.
Find below the hours of service rules.
What are Hours of Service (HOS)?
To monitor a truck driver's hours, their truck is required to use an electronic logging device. These electronic logging devices connect to the vehicle's engine and automatically record the driver's driving time providing a reliable way to collect HOS data. These ELD's replace paper logs, which were used by truckers to record their hours of service.
The Hours of Service final rule was published in the Federal Register in December 2011 as a way for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to monitor the working hours of any CDL driver operating a commercial motor vehicle in the United States. Their goal is to eliminate accidents caused due to a driver's fatigue.
The HOS rules determine the maximum number of consecutive hours that a CMV truck driver can drive before taking a mandatory break.
The hos rules for cmv drivers
Tracking the Hours of Service regulation limits the number of driving hours per day and the number of driving and working on-duty hours per week. Driving limit or cycle limit restrictions include:
14-hour shift limit
This rule can be reset only after the driver takes a 10-hours off-duty time. The 3-hour difference between the 11-hour driving limit and the 14-hour on-duty limit allows drivers to take care of non-driving working duties such as:
According to the 14-hour rule, a truck driver may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour of on-duty time.
During this 14-hour limit, the driver can drive a maximum of 11 hours and is required to take 30 minutes to break after 8-hours of on-duty time.
- loading and unloading cargo.
- fueling the vehicle,.
- required vehicle inspections.
- on-working duties such as meal and rest breaks.
11-hour driving limit
This means that the driver must make the appropriate arrangements to stop the truck before 11 hours are completed. It's very important to show your responsibility and professionalism by giving yourself enough time to stop for your rest break before 11 driving hours are up. A professional truck driver would plan his day. He'll know where his next truck stop or rest area would be and the approximate time when he'll arrive there.
A driver is limited to driving a maximum of 11 hours since his 14-hours of on-duty time started.
At the end of the 10 consecutive hours of combined sleeper and/or off-duty time, a driver’s 11-hour driving and 14-hour of on-duty period limits would completely restart.
The HOS rules limit the driver's driving time to 60 hours per 7-day period or to a 70-hour time limit per 8 days.
The truck driver can restart the 7 and 8 consecutive on-duty periods by taking 34 or more consecutive hours of off-duty time.
The most popular option is the 70 hours of on-duty time in 8 days.
This rule says that depending on what your company decides to operate with, whether the 60-hour rule for 7 days or 70 hours rule for 8 days.
This represents the maximum time that you can work in a 7 or 8 day period.
This means that if your company adopts the 8-day rule, after 70 hours of being on duty and driving you will need to take a rest for 34 hours to reset your time.
At any time you can use the option of a 34 h reset that will restart your hours completely.
If you work for 8 days and you don't reach the 70h then on the 9th day, you'll have the same time you had on the 1st day of those 8 days plus the remained time from the 70h.
The 34-hour restart rule allows commercial motor vehicle drivers to reset their 60-hour or 70-hour clocks back to zero.
Drivers can take advantage of the rule at any time by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off duty or in a sleeper berth.
30 minutes rest breaks
Drivers are required to take a 30-minute rest break after continuously driving for 8 hours.
Rest breaks can be logged as either off-duty time or can be taken as time in the sleeper berth at a truck stop or other rest area.
This is not optional for the drivers, rather this is a mandatory break they must take. Breaks can be logged as any status that is not driving.
Pro tip: the best way to never have to worry about this is to take a 30-minute break after 5 or 6 hours on the road. So that you won't need another break during the day.
10 hours rest period
This means that after 11 hours of driving or after being 14 hours on duty, the driver must rest for 10 hours before being able to drive again.
This is a very important rule because if you move the truck during the night or if you start a little early prior to the 10 hours off duty you could be under violation the entire day.
An electronic logging device records the same information as a manual paper log book but it requires less input from the drivers. The first ones to replace paper logs were the on-board recorders.
ELDs are engine-connected and automatically and record all the needed information displaying it on a dedicated app.
It’s easy and accurate, and it doesn't require any manual data entry.
In the case of a roadside inspection, truck drivers must have their ROD's available through a tablet or a mobile device. Else, the driver will be subject to penalties and costly fines.
To prove that the driver has followed the HOS rules, he must present to the roadside inspection officer the documented logs also known as the record of duty status (RODS).
RODs logs must include:
- 24-hour period grid
- Date (Day, Month, Year)
- Total miles driven
- Truck/Tractor/Trailer number
- Name of carrier
- Main office address
- Driver’s certification verifying logs
- Name of co-driver
- Time zone
- Total hours spent in: OFF-Duty, ON-Duty, Sleeper Berth, Driving
- Shipping document number/name of shipper/name of commodity
It is important to note that RODs belong to the individual driver, not the vehicle or the motor carrier.
If the driver changes vehicles, their RODs logs will stay with them and unchanged. In cases of co-drivers or team-drivers (where there are multiple drivers in the same vehicle), each driver must have their own RODS logs.
Find out what is an ELD in trucking.
Who is subject to HOS rules
The Hours of Service regulations apply to drivers that operate commercial motor vehicles in the United States.
In the U.S., there are two different sets of regulatory Hours of Service provisions: Interstate and intrastate.
Interstate drivers are subject to federal Hours of Service regulations.
A CMV refers to any vehicle that is used as part of a business that operates in interstate commerce.
Intrastate drivers may be subject to their state Hours of Service rules created by their state.
A CMV is a vehicle with or without a trailer that satisfies any of the below conditions:
- Weighs (including any load) 10,001 lbs or more.
- Transports any form of hazardous material that requires a placard.
- Transports 16 or more passengers, including the driver, without compensation.
- Transports 9 or more passengers, including the driver, for compensation.
The costs and penalties for not following hos rules
If an enforcement authority finds the truck driver violating the HOS regulations, they fine or penalize the driver and the carrier. Some of these penalties are:
Affects the carrier's CSA score
The FMCSA relies on their CSA score, which is a program that helps them to identify high-risk motor carriers.
The higher the score the more likely is that the company will be involved in an accident.
HOS violations will raise your CSA score.
If the CSA score is too high, the trucking carrier will incur higher insurance premiums and the risk of turning away prospective clients.
So, the lower the score, the better.
The FMCSA can dish out penalties to both drivers and carriers. These fines range from $1,000 to $16,000 per violation. However, these fines can exceed $75,000 if the violation involves hazardous materials.
Driver Placed Out of Service
If the truck driver violates the HOS rules, the DOT inspector can put the vehicle out of use. This means that the vehicle may have to stop for 10-30 hours of off-duty time until it can be back in compliance.
The length of the violation time usually ranges between 10 and 34 hours.
It's not a fine but it may still affect your bottom line.
150 air-mile exemption
The 150 air-mile rule exempts property-carrying CDL drivers from completing a daily log and having supporting documents within 150 air miles of their daily starting location. To meet this exemption, drivers must:
- Operate within a 150 air-mile radius of their daily starting location.
- Start and end the day at the same location.
- End the workday within 14 hours.
- Have at least 10 hours off-duty between each 14-hour shift.
150 air-mile non-CDL short-haul exemption
There is another 150 air-mile exemption that is slightly different from the 150 air-mile rule described above.
This exemption is for drivers who operate a property-carrying commercial vehicle but do not require a CDL. It applies to non-CDL drivers who:
- Operate within a 150 air-mile radius of their work’s primary location
- Return to that primary work location at the end of each duty shift
Additionally, they must not:
- Drive any vehicle that requires a CDL
- Drive after 14 hours of coming on duty on 5 days of any period of 7 consecutive days
- Drive after 16 hours of coming on duty on 2 days of any period of 7 consecutive days
Adverse driving conditions exemption
The adverse driving condition exception allows drivers to extend the maximum “driving window” by up to 2 hours.
For example, drivers with a maximum driving window of 14 hours can use the adverse driving condition exception to complete their drive time in a 16-hour driving window.
Before the Final Rule on HOS was enacted in September 2020, drivers could use this exemption to drive up to 2 hours beyond their maximum drive time but could not extend their maximum driving window. Now, with the ability to extend the maximum driving window by up to 2 hours, drivers using the adverse driving condition exception have the flexibility to safely wait out adverse driving conditions or drive at a slower speed to avoid any incidents.
Split sleeper berth
- 8/2 split: For an 8/2 split, one off-duty period must be between two and eight hours (2/8 hour period) and can be spent in the sleeper berth, off-duty, or personal conveyance (or a combination of the three). The other off-duty period must be between eight and 10 hours (8/10 hour period) and can only be taken in the sleeper berth.
- 7/3 split: As part of the Final Rule on HOS that went into effect on September 29, 2020, drivers can now split their required 10 hours off-duty in a 7/3 split if they prefer, offering additional flexibility.
- The two breaks can be taken in any order and by completing both rest periods, the 14-hour driving window is re-started from the end of the first sleeper berth period but not until after the second period is completed.
- Since the 14-hour driving window does not restart after the end of the second off-duty period, the split sleeper berth is not a full 10-hour reset; it simply moves the start time of the 14-hour driving window.
In the trucking world, there is still a lot of confusion about how to follow this sleeper berth rule. So I'm explaining it to you in a very simple fashion below.
Let's stick to the 8 and 2 portions of the driver's brake.
The 2-hour portion of the brake will not stop the 14-hour clock.
After driving for 4 hours, the driver takes a 2-hour break. After that break, the driver starts driving again. In this case, that 2-hour break doesn't stop the driver's clock. The 14 hours clock keeps running.
The driver can spend these 2 hours in a combination of different ways. During this 2 hour portion, the driver can be on Personal Conveyance, Sleeper Berth, or Off-Duty.
So, let's say the driver is in your sleeper berth for the 1st hour because he wanted a nap. Then, after an hour, he decided to go and get some food. So he goes into Personal Conveyance for 15 to drive to Burger King to grab himself a burger. Then he switches to off duty for 45 minutes to eat his lunch.
Now all those three things added up and equal 2 hours.
Alright, moving to the 8-hour portion of your break. These 8 hours can only be spent in the sleeper berth. And the 8-hour portion of your break does stop your 14 hours.
So to remind:
- A 2-hour break does not stop your 14-hour clock.
- An 8-hour break does stop your 14-hour clock.
- But, neither of these reset your 14-hour clock.
It's not like a 10-hour break after which you can take a fresh 14-hour clock.
These don't do that.