The term “hours of service” represents the maximum time drivers can be on duty. Drivers’ HOS rules include driving time, rest breaks, and the length of each interval, helping to ensure they remain awake and alert. Drivers must take breaks to limit the total number of hours they drive.
FMCSA enforces working hours restrictions by requiring all drivers to keep logs. ELD mandate is related to this enforcement, which requires drivers to have a Record of Duty with days of service readily accessible. The mandate includes ELD-recorded electronic logs and automatic Hours of Service collected from the vehicle’s access point. Drivers also need to maintain a Service Record (ROD) that law enforcement officers can request and view randomly.
Since driving time restrictions may feel restrictive to drivers, HOS rules restrictions are said to decrease exhaustion accidents, which contribute to 13% or more of all commercial roadway accidents. Installing an electronic logging device also increases the initial cost of the fleet. Simultaneously, many devices involve tracking and efficiency tools, which reduce time spent on IFTA fuel tax reports, DIVRS, and logging. They can also help in saving money.
In this article, we will discuss HOS rules. So stay with us till the end.
The concept of hours of service (HOS)
If you’ve been in the trucking industry for a short time, you’ve probably heard about the Hours of Service (HOS). The concept of hours of service rules (HOS Rules) has been around for a long time, since 1938. There have been different variations of these rules over time. However, the ones in force today were finalized in 2013 and updated with the latest provisions in September of 2020.
Although historically regulated by other agencies, the Federal Automobile Carrier Safety Control Authority (FMCSA) now monitors the HOS rules. The FMCSA is under the Department of Transportation (DOT) in the United States. For more info watch this video.
Do the Hours of Service regulations apply to you?
Working hours regulations apply to all commercial vehicle operators in the United States. Outside of belonging to a company or corporation, a commercial motor vehicle is defined as any vehicle that meets one of the following conditions:
- Transports dangerous materials and necessitates the use of placards.
- Weight (including all loads) over 10,001 pounds.
- Carry 16 or more passengers (passenger carriers), including drivers, without compensation.
- For compensation, transports a vehicle carrying nine or more passengers, including the driver.
HOS Rules And Driver Work Hours
The Hours of Service regulation restricts the range of hours of driving per day, including the number of driving and on-duty hours per week. Restrictions on driving or cycling include the following:
14-Hour Time Window
Drivers have a 14-hour window to drive for a maximum of 11 hours and must take a 30-minute break after 8 hours. The 14-hour driving time limit prevents drivers from operating continuously for more than 14 hours after 10 hours of off-duty.
According to the Final Rule on HOS Rules, which went into effect on September 29, 2020, an operator cannot drive for over 8 hours without taking a 30-minute break, but they may have been on duty for more than 8 hours.
11-Hour Time Window
After ten consecutive hours off duty, a driver is only allowed to drive for 11 hours at maximum.
60/70-Hour Time Window
The HOS Rules limit driving time to 60 hours in seven days, and 70 hours in eight days. Hence, if the driver reaches 60/70 hours of work for seven or eight consecutive days, he will not be able to continue driving.
All drivers can reset the 70-hour or 60-hour period by accepting the 34-hour exemption status. Since the 2020 update, this is no longer limited to once a week. Drivers can work at the beginning of the week, take a break to reset their hours, then work more and then take another break the following week. In theory, a driver could reset hours multiple times every week to accommodate longer trips at the end of the week.
10-Hours Of Off Duty
The driver must be out of 10 hours of work or in a sleeping car after reaching 14 hours of work. After 11 hours of driving time, the driver must spend 10 hours off-duty or in the Sleeper Berth before driving again.
The driver should take a 30-minute break after 8 hours of continuous driving. Rest periods can be logged as off-duty time. They can also be logged as time spent in a sleeper berth at a truck stop or other rest area.
Provision For Sleeper Berth
The driver can spend at least seven hours in a row in the berth and two hours in other off-duty conditions, both periods at least 10 hours. Sleeper berth provisions split the allocated driving time due to the sleeper berth provision. The driver can only drive for the remaining time on the previous 11 hours after each off-duty period.
Providing a place to sleep is not a resumption of the 11-hour or 14-hour rule. By moving the start of the window to the end of the last On-Duty period, the other window will begin before the end of the Off-Duty period.
If you have a berth, you can reduce the maximum time a driver can be on duty or drive anytime. Moreover, it enables drivers to divide their workload more safely, arrive at locations at a more suitable time, and eliminate unnecessary on-duty response times.
Example – A person drives for seven hours. They stop and take an eight-hour rest in the sleeper birth. On waking up, they have four hours remaining out of the 11 hours allocated. They drive for four hours and then take a two-hour off-duty stop. They can now work for another seven hours before reaching the 11-hour allotment.
Exceptions And Special Cases of FMCSA HoS Rules
The FMCSA provides a few cases and exclusions in which a driver may be behind the wheel while not being HOS compliant.
Authorized Personal Conveyance
If a driver uses a CMV for personal transportation, the FMCSA exempts them from HOS. Individual transport includes the following elements:
- Move vehicles outside working hours at the request of safety personnel.
- Commuting from your residence or accommodation to your workplace or caravan site – if driving time interferes with the driver’s ability to rest adequately, FMCSA considers it a violation.
- Traveling with personal belongings while at work.
- After loading or unloading, drive to a safe place nearby for a break.
- Drive to and from lodgings, residences, or off-duty eateries or entertainment.
In order to qualify for FMCSA protection, all shipments must be recorded as “on duty” rather than “driving.” At the moment, the FMCSA doesn’t always define a yard move. Moreover, under current regulations, driving is considered a yard move if the vehicle is on the carrier’s property or the customer’s property. The status changes to “driving” when drivers reach speeds of more than 5 miles per hour.
Exemption Of Short Haul
Short-haul trips, defined as trips within a 150-mile radius, seem to be exempt from maintaining Record of Duty Status. One can qualify if:
- The entire itinerary, including delivery/loading, will take less than 14 hours.
- Start from and return to the exact location within 12 hours.
- After driving for 8 hours, you must take at least 30 minutes off the clock.
- Rest at least 10 hours between shifts.
- No trips are longer than 150 miles from home.
- You do not drive for more than 11 hours in a row.
Driving In Adverse Conditions
Drivers may use an interim measure to add 2 hours to their RODs. In emergency conditions, such as in the case of catastrophic weather, heavy snow, heavy fog, or traffic accidents, this feature invokes. Personal emergencies, predictable delays, or situations known at departure are not exceptions to adverse driving conditions.
150 Air-Mile Exemption
Those who carry property within 150 air miles of their daily starting location are not required to complete daily logs and provide supporting documentation. Drivers must comply with these things to meet this exemption –
- They must operate within a 150-air-mile radius of their routine starting point.
- Within 14 hours, the workday should be over.
- Take at least 10 hours of leave for every 14-hour shift.
- Be in the same location at the start and the end of the workday.
Non-CDL Short-Haul Exemption Of 150 Air Miles
The 150 air-mile exemption described above is slightly different from the 150 air-mile exemption described below. This exemption is available to drivers who function in a property-carrying commercial vehicle but wouldn’t need a CDL. Non-CDL drivers are applicable, such as:
- Function within a 150-mile radius of their primary workplace.
- When you finish your duty shift, go back to your primary work location.
- They must not drive any CDL-required vehicle.
- After 14 hours from the start of work, you must not work for five consecutive days for seven days.
- After 16 hours of service, you must not work for two days in seven day
HOS Rules are essential for remaining compliant and making money on the road. We’ve compiled the HOS Rules and exemptions you must adhere to in this blog. If you have any tips or suggestions, do let us know in the comments below. To know more about fleet-related articles visit our website.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why are HOS rules important?
Ans. HOS rules are important for safety reasons, as they help to prevent driver fatigue and reduce the risk of accidents caused by tired drivers.
2. What are the key changes to HOS rules in 2023?
Ans. In 2023, the FMCSA is planning to implement changes to the HOS rules related to the 30-minute rest break, the split-sleeper berth provision, and the short-haul exemption.
3. How does the 30-minute rest break rule work?
Ans. The 30-minute rest break rule requires drivers to take a break of at least 30 consecutive minutes after eight hours of driving time. The break can be off-duty time or sleeper berth time, but it must be uninterrupted.
4. What are the consequences of violating HOS rules?
Ans. Violating HOS rules can result in fines, penalties, and loss of driving privileges. It can also put the safety of the driver and other motorists at risk.
James Johnson is a former truck driver who now works as a writer, specializing in the trucking industry. With over 15 years of experience on the road, James has a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities faced by truck drivers and the trucking industry as a whole. His writing focuses on issues such as safety, regulation, and the latest industry trends. His work has been featured in several trucking publications and he has received recognition for his contributions to the industry. In his free time, James still enjoys being around trucks and often attends truck shows and other industry events.