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DOT Hours Of Service Rules For Truck Drivers

 

The hours of service regulations (HOS) for commercial motor vehicle drivers has undergone several changes recently and some of the information about them that you will find on the internet is inaccurate. In this article I will clearly describe the hours of service regulations and address many of the most common questions drivers have about the law. If you are looking for accurate and comprehensive information about hours of service laws for truck drivers drivers you are at the right place. Information Source

The hours of service rules are the following:

Rule 1: Once the duty period starts it runs for 14 consecutive hours after which the driver may not operate a commercial vehicle again until having another 10 or more consecutive hours off duty. Nothing stops the running of the 14 hour clock.

Rule 2: During the 14 hour period, which is also called the “driving window”, you may drive a maximum of 11 hours.

Rule 3: When you reach a total of 60 on duty hours in 7 days you must have a period of at least 34 hours off duty. There is an alternative available for carriers that operate every day of the week, it is a maximum of 70 on duty hours in 8 days.

Rule 4: An off duty break is required at some point of the duty period. The rule says that you may not drive a commercial vehicle if it has been 8 or more hours since your last off duty period of at least 30 minutes.

History Of The Hours Of Service Regulations

Before I discuss the particulars of the hours of service law lets take a look at the history of this law. The original hours of service laws were actually adapted way back in 1939. As you can imagine the laws have changed quite a bit since then but there are still some constants that remain unchanged.

The governing body responsible for the regulations is called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA). The FMSCA governs the hours of service law that all states have to abide by, there are no exceptions. Everyone (almost) that operates a commercial vehicle on a public roadway is subject to these rules and regulations. There are some exceptions to the rules which I will discuss later.

Purpose Of The Hours Of Service Laws And Regulations

Driving a commercial vehicle for long periods of time has been proven dangerous to the driver and to the general public. Having an hours of service law ensures that drivers are safe and the drivers that they share the road on throughout the United States are also safe.

The purpose of the hours of service regulations is to minimize drowsiness that can lead to injuries and crashes. A common complaint that drivers have is that they know when their body is feeling drowsy and when it is time to park the truck and get some rest. Drivers will tell you that this doesn’t have to be regulated. They are wrong, driving while drowsy needs to be regulated.

Studies have shown that drivers were often sacrificing sleep/rest for miles. This makes sense, if you are paid per mile you drive then you want to drive as much as possible, even when you are tired. The FMSCA has said that this is dangerous and has to be regulated, which is why we have the hours of service laws.

Who Do The Hours Of Service Regulations Apply To?

The hours of service laws apply to anyone that is commercial motor vehicle on a public roadway. Note: In this article I will discuss how the hours of service applies to CDL drivers that are transporting property only.

These are some common questions drivers have about the hours of service law and who they apply to:

1. Who is exempt from the Hours of Service Regulations?

There are a few categories that are exempt from the laws, these include drivers for governmental agencies, drivers driving on personal property, and a few others.

2. Are Intrastate Rules The Same As The Federal Hours Of Service Regulations?

No, if you are an intrastate driver you should contact your state for information regarding your driving laws. Each state may have their own laws.

3. If A Person Drives A Commercial Vehicle On Private Property That Is Restricted To The Public Do The Hours Of Service Laws Apply To Them?

No, if they are on private property the laws do not apply to them.

4. If A Driver Is Allowed To Use A Commercial Vehicle For Strictly Personal Reasons Does The Hours Of Service Laws Apply?

No, if the activity is not related to driving passengers or transporting property the laws do not apply to them.

What Is The Drivers Responsibility?

As the driver of the vehicle it is your responsibility to ensure you comply with the Federal Hours of Service Regulations. Any violation of the regulations will and can be held against you. Take your driving career seriously and make sure you know what expectations are.

What If I Don’t Comply With The Federal Hours of Service Regulations?

Violations of the hours of service laws/regulations detected during a roadside inspection may result in a traffic citation and you may be given out of service status for a period of time. Don’t take the risk, make sure you are following the laws so that you don’t have any problems.

What Is The Carriers Responsibility?

The carrier has responsibilities too. The carrier also has to ensure that they are training and monitoring their drivers so that the drivers are not violating the hours of service regulations. If it is found that the carrier is at fault for not properly training or monitoring its drivers they can also be in violation.

This is good for drivers because it ensures that the company your drive for is also doing their part and constantly training you so that violations don’t occur. Violations are bad for the carrier and the driver and should be avoided.

Property Carrier Hours of Service Driving Time Limits

You have 4 choices of duty status when a property carrying driver records his/her time on a record of duty status (RODS).

1. Off Duty: Any time when a driver is not on duty, is not required to be in readiness to work, or is not under any responsibility to perform work.

2. Sleeper Berth: Off duty time resting in a sleeper berth.

3. Driving: Driving time that the driver is operating the commercial vehicle/working.

4. On Duty/Not Driving: Driver is on duty but is not driving a commercial vehicle.

Note: The hours of service rules are different for passenger carrying vehicles. These rules are for property/load drivers only.

These are the basic hours of service rules:
– 10 hours off duty
– 14 hour duty period
– 11 hours driving
– 30 minute break
– 60 hours/7 days on duty limit
– 70 hours/8 days on duty limit

These Are The Hours Of Service Rules Explained

Rule 1: Once the duty period starts it runs for 14 consecutive hours after which the driver may not operate a commercial vehicle again until having another 10 or more consecutive hours off duty. Nothing stops the running of the 14 hour clock.

Rule 2: During the 14 hour period, which is also called the “driving window”, you may drive a maximum of 11 hours.

Rule 3: When you reach a total of 60 on duty hours in 7 days you must have a period of at least 34 hours off duty. There is an alternative available for carriers that operate every day of the week, it is a maximum of 70 on duty hoursĀ  in 8 days.

Rule 4: An off duty break is required at some point of the duty period. The rule says that you may not drive a commercial vehicle if it has been eight or more hours since your last off duty period of at least 30 minutes.

Hours Of Service Driving Time Limits Common Questions

1. What is the 16 hour rule? The 16 hour rule means that for every five duty periods that they return to their starting point they may choose one 16 hour duty period.

2. Can a property carrier remain on duty after the 14th hour? A driver may remain on duty after the 14 hours but may not drive a commercial vehicle. For example,he driver may work in the warehouse. These hours do also count towards the 60 or 70 hours on duty in seven or eight days.

3. May a property carrier driver log roadside inspection time as his/her 30 minute break? No. The 30 minute break must be completely off duty.

4. How does a driver restart his/her work week? The counting of the maximum 60 or 70 hours on duty restarts anytime a driver has at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.

5. Can a property carrier driver split shifts? Because the 14 hour clock does not stop for anything it may be difficult to schedule a split shift.

6. Is a driver required to include two periods of 1:00 am to 5:00 am in his/her 34 hour restart period? No. That is an older provision that has been suspended in the regulations.

7. When not driving a commercial motor vehicle, how can the driver determine what is on duty time versus off duty time? There are a lot of scenarios that determine what is off duty and on duty. You should refer to the definition of on duty here.

Hours Of Service Recording Methods

There are four methods of recording hours of service that are acceptable. They are time cards, paper log books, Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRD), and Electronic Logging Devices (ELD).

Common Questions About Hours Of Service Recording

1. What determines which recording method should be used? Time cards are only used for local drivers that are driving within a 100 mile radius. Everyone else is required to use Electronic Logging Devices starting Dec. 2017.

2. When will paper log books no longer be allowed? Paper log books will be allowed when an AOBRD or ELD is malfunctioning.

3. Can a driver continue using an AOBRD? Yes, but only until December 2019.

4. When are all non-exempt commercial vehicle drivers expected to be using an Electronic Logging System? December 18, 2017.

Exceptions To The Hours of Service Rules And Regulations

There are some exceptions that you should know about regarding the hours of service laws. Exceptions can be made for the following: driving conditions, emergency conditions, retail store deliveries, Alaska, Hawaii, agriculture operations, ground water well drilling operations, construction material and equipment, commercial vehicle transportation to and from a motion picture site, transport of livestock, and utility services vehicles.

Some More Questions About The Hours of Service Law

1. What if a driver encounters adverse driving conditions that cannot be avoided, can the driver exceed the maximum time allowed? No, property carrying drivers cannot exceed the 14 hour time period.

2. If a property carrying commercial motor vehicle driver operates a vehicle that requires a CDL within a 100 mile radius of their work site, will he/she be exempt from recording his/her daily driver’s record of duty status? It is an exception from using a log book but a time card at the terminal should be used.

3. If a driver interrupts his/her sleeper berth by checking into a motel/hotel will he/she meet the regulatory requirements for the off duty rest period? A driver may combine consecutive off duty and sleeper berth time to reach the required 8 to 10 hours of being off duty. A brief and necessary interruption does not require a restart.

The Hours Of Service rules and regulations can be overwhelming to understand, but my quick guide to it will give you a really good idea what it is about. I say this all the time, this is your career and ultimately it is your responsibility to know what the expectations are while driving a commercial motor vehicle in the United States of America. Be safe!

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