Truck Driver Hours of Service Regulations

Hours spent behind the wheel by a truck driver are basically the foundation for supply chains everywhere. The longer a driver is behind the wheel, the quicker the load is delivered and the more money the driver makes.

However, the changes to the hours-of-service rule can affect many long-haul drivers. Do you know the rules of the trucking industry and how they may affect you?

Hours of Service Compliance

Do you wonder if the hours-of-service rules apply to you? Is your rig big enough to be mandated to these rules? Below is a breakdown of who is mandated to follow the hours of service rules.

Any commercial motor vehicle, or any vehicle that is used as a business and is involved in interstate commerce that falls into this description:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver), not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport nine or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

According to the Federal Motor Safety Administration, the following hours of service rules are listed

  • 11-Hour Driving Limit- May drive a maximum of 11 hours after ten consecutive hours off duty.
  • 14-Hour Limit-May does not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following ten consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
  • Rest Breaks-May drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes. Does not apply to drivers using either of the short-haul exceptions in 395.1(e). [49 CFR 397.5 mandatory “in attendance” time may be included in break if no other duties are performed]
  • 60/70-Hour Limit-May does not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
  • Sleeper Berth Provision-Drivers using the sleeper berth provision must take at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate two consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.

As of right now, The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 was enacted on December 16, 2014, suspending enforcement of requirements for use of the 34-hour restart. (See more at Summary of Hours of Service Regulations.)

Driving Conditions Exception

  • If a commercial driver cannot safely complete the run within the maximum driving time of 11 hours, that driver may drive up to an additional two hours to reach a place offering safety for the driver and cargo. However, the driver may not drive after the 14th hour since coming on duty.
  • If weather conditions do not safely allow you to pull over at a hotel or rest stop and stop for 10 hours off-duty, then you may extend your drive time up to two hours
  • This exception does not mean that you can work longer because of bad weather. If you can safely stop and layover within your 11-hour drive time, you must do so, provided you cannot return to your home terminal within 14 hours or under the 16-hour exception, if available.

Hours of Service Rules Violation Penalties

Often, there are ways to get around rules. However, think of the long-term consequences of doing so. You are driving to make money, but in the end, getting violations not only costs money but, in the long term, can damage your career!

  • Drivers may be placed shut down at the roadside until they have accumulated enough off-duty time to be back in compliance
  • State and local law enforcement officials may assess fines
  • FMCSA may levy civil penalties on a driver or carrier, ranging from $1,000 to $11,0000 per violation, depending on the severity
  • The carrier’s safety rating can be downgraded for a pattern of violations
  • Federal criminal penalties can be brought against carriers who knowingly and willfully allow or require HOS violations or violate the HOS regulations

For the most part, the hours of service rules were put into place for all drivers on the road, both truck drivers, pedestrians, and other drivers. Truck driver fatigue increases the risk of accidents. Although the rules are controversial and can be confusing, they are in place for safety reasons. When partnering with a non-forced dispatch trucking company such as Landstar, we know that safety comes first!