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How Many Hours are Drivers Allowed to Drive? – HOS Overview Part 3

[fa icon="calendar"] Thu, Feb 19, 2015 / by Eric Arnold

20150105_blogSo, seriously, what are the rules?

Like I said at the end of the last article, even if a driver uses Electronic Logs, it still helps if the driver knows some basics of the often-complex rules. In this last part of the series we will take a look at some of the hours of service rules. It is not a complete, detailed description of the rules. But, the rules discussed below apply to 97% of truck drivers, and are the cornerstone of DOT’s hours of service rules.

There are 4 major rules, and a driver must comply with them all:

The 11-hour rule

A driver is not allowed to drive more than 11 consecutive hours, before he must take a 10-hour off-duty or sleeper break. Once a driver has exhausted his 11 hours driving, he can get a fresh 11 hours by taking a 10-hour off-duty or sleeper break. Fairly simple, right?

The 14-hour rule

A driver is not allowed to work and drive more than 14 hours, before he must take a 10-hour off-duty or sleeper break. This rule is more complicated than the 11-hour rule. The 14-hour clock is a fixed window. In other words, once a driver comes on-duty to start his shift, he gets 14 hours to work and drive, and no more. For example, a driver starts his shift at 5am. By 7pm, he must stop driving; regardless of how many hours he actually drove during that 14-hour window. If a driver stops for lunch, gets delayed at a receiver, or takes a nap, none of this extends the 14-hour window. It is common for a driver to reach his 14th hour, without driving all of his 11 hours. Even though he may not have driven 11 hours, and driver cannot drive beyond his 14th duty hour. A driver can get a fresh 14-hour clock by taking a 10-hour off-duty or sleeper break.

The 30-minute rule

This relatively new rule states a driver cannot drive past his 8th hour of duty, until he takes a 30-minute off-duty or sleeper berth break. For example, if a driver begins his shift at 5am, he must take a 30 minute break at 1pm or sooner, or he cannot drive past 1pm. The 8 hours includes on-duty time. So, even though a driver may come on-duty at 5am, but begin driving at 5:30am, his 30-minute break must still happen by 1pm, not 1:30pm.

If a driver takes his 30-minute break early in his shift, he may need another one before the end of his shift. For example, a driver comes on-duty at 5am, and takes his break from 7:30am to 8:00am. He then proceeds to work the remainder of his 14-hour clock. His 14-hour clock expires at 7pm. However, 8 hours from 8am is 4pm. The driver cannot drive beyond 4pm unless he takes another 30-minute break.

The 70-hour rule

This is a weekly or cumulative rule. DOT does not allow a driver to work every day, without end. A driver is not allowed to drive after being on-duty 70 hours in any consecutive 8-day period. An example: a driver works 14 hours a day, Monday through Friday. 14 x 5 = 70 hours. His 8-day period would be that Monday, through and including the next Monday. So, since he reaches his 70th hour on Friday, he cannot drive on Saturday or Sunday.

There is one other very important component of this rule. A driver can reset his 70-hour cycle back to zero, if he gets 34 consecutive hours off-duty. Recently two controversial conditions have been removed form the 34-hour rest period.

These conditions added a lot of complication to the rules and required that the 34-hour rest encompassed two periods of 1am  5am as well each reset having to be a least 168 hours  from the last reset.  Both of these were roundly hated by truck drivers and trucking companies as the 34-hour rest period could last a maximum of 51 hours.

As you can imagine drivers have to be one top of hours they work and how many hours they have left to work. This is where the biggest advantage of Electronic Logbooks like BigRoad comes into play. The app will take care of hours of service and alert you before you violations.

“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 2: How are Hours of Service Recorded?

Eric Arnold

Written by 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.

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