Before looking at the rules, first we’ll look at how to account for a driver’s hours. In order for a DOT inspector to determine if a driver is complying with the hours of service rules, they must know how many hours a driver has driven. Traditionally a driver would record their hours of service on sheets of paper called log sheets, or logs. With the proliferation of smartphones and mobile devices it is becoming increasingly more common for the driver to use an app to create Electronic Logs. Below is an example of a electronic log.

Englund_Log

The log shows what a driver did during one 24 hour day.

A driver must choose between one of the 4 duty status during their shift:

  1. Off-Duty - for when a driver is not working.
  2. Sleeper - for when a driver is sleeping in the truck’s sleeper berth.
  3. Driving - time spent behind the wheel driving on public roads.
  4. On-Duty - time spent working, but not driving.

In the example above, driver Alex Garcia of Englund Equipment Company comes on-duty at 9:45am in Newnan, GA. He spends 15 minutes on-duty, presumably conducting a pre-trip inspection on his truck. He then drives south for 5 1/2 hours, arriving in Gulfport, MS at 3.30pm. He then goes off-duty until 4:00pm for his 30-minute break. He then continues driving from 4:00pm until 6:45pm when he stops for fuel in Breaux Bridge, LA. At 7:00pm he's back on the road and drives until 9:15pm when he reaches Beaumont, TX and changes his duty status to Sleeper. As you can quickly see from the Log Events on the electronic log all this information is neatly summarized. With paper logs all this information would be filled out by hand.

With paper logs, every time a driver changes duty status, he must draw a line into the “Remarks” section, and write down the city and the state. With Electronic Logs the process is greatly simplified by inputting a few taps on the screen and logs are automatically generated for them. This information tells the authorities where the driver was. A driver must record his time every day, even if he does not work that day. All days must be accounted for.

There is some more to it. Drivers staying within 100 air miles of their terminals generally don’t have to fill out the log shown above, as long as they are recording the time they start work, the time they finish work, and their total number of hours that day.

Finally, many drivers use an electronic log to record their hours of service. Within 5 years, the DOT will require all drivers to use an electronic log, largely eliminating the paper log. The big advantage of using BigRoad electronic logs is that it will alert drivers when to take their breaks, and how many hours they have left to drive.

It helps if the driver knows the complex rules, which we’ll look at next time, but when using the Electronic Logs a lot of the legwork is already taken care of, as the device knows the rules.

Join us next week for the 3rd and final part as we look at how many hours drivers are allowed to drive.

“Hours of Service Regulations – An Overview” is a blog series prepared for BigRoad by Eric Arnold of Arnold Safety Consulting. It is a simple, yet comprehensive, look at main points of the trucking hours of service rules. During the 3 parts it will discuss who must comply with the hours of service rules, how the hours of service are recorded, and how many hours a driver is allowed to work and drive. The Federal Department of Transportation commercial motor vehicle hours of service rules are relatively complex, and contain dozens, if not hundreds, of nuances, interpretations, and gray areas. It would be impossible to cover all of the various specific interpretations in a few blog posts. The description of the hours of service rules is meant to be an overview of the rules. It is not a complete, detailed description of the rules. If you want to view the actual rules, they are found in 49 CFR Part 395, which is more commonly referred to Part 395 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Part 1: Who Must Comply with Hours of Service?
Part 3: How Many Hours are Drivers Allowed to Drive?

About the Author: Eric Arnold

Eric Arnold

Eric Arnold, President of Arnold Safety Consulting, Inc., Birdsboro, PA, is a former U.S. Department of Transportation agent, with 24 years regulatory and transportation compliance experience. He is an expert on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. More information about Mr. Arnold can be found at www.arnoldsafetyblog.com.