Department of Transportation – Hours of Service Rules

Department of Transportation – Hours of Service Rules

Hours of Service rules are the rules set forth by the US Department of Transportation’s division of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) governing the working hours of anyone operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). This includes truck drivers and bus drivers. These rules limit the number of (daily and weekly) hours spent driving, and regulate the minimum amount of time drivers must spend resting between driving shifts. A driver of a CMV is also required to keep a record of working hours using a log book, outlining the total number of hours spent driving and resting, as well as the time at which the change of duty status occurred.

A driver’s hours of service are regulated by both federal and state agencies. On the federal level, hours of service of drivers are part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). They are issued and enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of the Department of Transportation (DOT).

If you are a truck driver who operates a commercial motor vehicle, you should know the basics of Hours of Service, and if you are an aspiring truck driver, or just someone who yearns for knowledge, here are a few basics to a truck drivers Hours of Service Rules:

11 Hour Driving Rule: All time spent behind the wheel is considered driving time. After 11 hours of driving time, you must have 10 consecutive hours off duty before you can drive again.

14 Consecutive Hours on Duty: A commercial motor vehicle driver cannot drive a commercial vehicle after 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty. A driver cannot drive again until they have 10 consecutive hours of rest. Lunch breaks or other off-duty time do not extend the 14-hour period. The 14 hours are consecutive from the time a driver starts their tour of duty.

60/70 Hours of Service Rule: Drivers working for a company that does not operate motor vehicles every day of the week must not drive after accumulating 60 hours on duty during any 7 consecutive days. If your company operates vehicles every day of the week, you must not drive after accumulating 70 hours on-duty time in any 8 consecutive days. You may, however, continue to perform non-driving duties after reaching these limits and not be in violation. (On-duty time is defined as all time from the time you begin work or are required to be ready for work until you are relieved from work and all responsibility for doing work).

34-Hour Restart: The regulations include an optional “restart” provision. This allows you to “restart” your 60 or 70 hour clock after having at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.

Duty Status Record: In order to check your compliance with the above-stated rules, drivers must keep track of their hours of service. Your motor carrier has the option to select the format which best suits its operation. This is also known as a log book.

Driver fatigue is a serious problem. It is one of the leading causes of heavy truck crashes, and when you consider that thousands of deaths each year result from accidents involving commercial motor vehicles, you can see why there are regulations to keep tired drivers off the road. The hours of service regulations are based on the sensible idea that if you drive too long, you get tired… and dangerous.

Following the rules and keeping good records can help you avoid costly citations and fines, or even being placed out of service. Most importantly, following the rules may prevent an accident, possibly even save a life. -JJ Keller “Driver’s guide to hours of service”

These are just the basics of the Hours of Service rules. If you would like to find out more, please click here

Noah Ostroff