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New Hours of Service (HOS) for Commercial Truck Drivers

By Verizon Connect September 25, 2020

Hours of Service (HOS) requirements are a crucial component of Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scores. The following information is important for fleets and drivers to keep top of mind when it comes to adhering to HOS regulations and avoiding non-compliance penalties—especially with recent changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are DOT Hours of Service?

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) HOS are the maximum allowable working hours for commercial drivers within a given period of time. Regulations around HOS define how much rest a driver must have between shifts, as well as when breaks and cycles occur. Limits pertaining to HOS differ for property and passenger-carrying drivers.

Who establishes Hours of Service regulations?

HOS regulations are established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and are designed to keep drowsy truck drivers off the road by limiting the number of consecutive hours they can drive and enforcing mandatory rest periods. HOS regulations are detailed on the FMCSA website and must be followed by commercial vehicle drivers throughout North America.

How many hours can a truck driver work per day? 

This is a summary of the HOS regulations set by the FMCSA for commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) transporting property or goods: 

  • 11-hour driving rule: A driver can only drive up to 11 consecutive hours before he or she is required to take 10 consecutive hours off.
  • 14-hour driving limit: A driver cannot drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • 15-hour driving limit: A driver cannot drive after having been on duty for 15 hours, following 8 consecutive hours off duty. 
  • Rest breaks: Requires a driver to take a minimum 30-minute rest break every eight hours. However, this does not apply to drivers using either of the short-haul exceptions in 395.1(e).
  • 60/70-hour limit:
    • Drivers cannot drive more than 60 hours in any 7-day period. If a driver does 60 hours of driving in a 7-day period, it must be followed by at least 8 hours of off duty time.
    • Drivers cannot drive more than 70 hours in any 8-day period. If a driver does 70 hours of driving in a 7-day period it must be followed by at least 8 hours of off duty time.
    • A driver may restart a 7/8-day consecutive period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty. 

Find out how you can improve your CSA scores with this practical ebook.

Do HOS rules change if a commercial vehicle is transporting passengers?

This is a summary of the HOS regulations set by the FMCSA for CMVs carrying passengers: 

  • 10-hour limit: Drivers with passengers cannot drive for longer than 10 consecutive hours. 
  • 15-hour limit: Drivers with passengers cannot be on duty for longer than 15 consecutive hours. 
  • 60/70-hour limit:
    • Drivers cannot drive more than 60 hours in any 7-day period.
    • Drivers cannot drive more than 70 hours in any 8-day period. 

Are there any HOS exemptions?

There are several exemptions to HOS compliance. This is a summary of the three most common: 

  • 100 air-mile radius/short-haul exemption: The short-haul exemption is for drivers who don’t drive outside a 100 air-mile radius (from their normal work-reporting location). These drivers are not required to comply with the 30-minute break rule.
  • Adverse driving conditions: If unexpected driving conditions like weather or a major crash slow a driver down, they may take up to two extra hours to complete their trip. Conditions that a driver should have known about, such as rush hour or existing construction, are not covered by the adverse driving conditions exemption. 
  • Agriculture and farming vehicles: These are mostly exempt from most HOS regulations, but compliance is complicated. Those driving these types of vehicles should be sure to learn more about what exemptions may or may not apply.

What are the most common HOS violations?

The top two most common HOS violations are form and manner violations, and a driver’s record of duty (ROD) status not being current. Form and manner violations continue to take the lead among all roadside violations, but record of duty status isn't far behind.

Record of duty status violations make up about 10% of all roadside inspection violations, and more than 70% of all HOS violations. Part of the reason these violations are so common is that they are easily identified by inspectors. While electronic logging devices (ELDs) aid drivers in maintaining information like total miles driven, drivers still continue to receive violations for either not having an ELD, or for having disjointed information across different technology platforms that is not easily accessible by the inspector.

Exactly how much is a log book violation fine? It can range anywhere from $1,000 - $10,000, but can impact a business far beyond the face value of the violation alone in downtime and loss to reputation. The fine for driving out of hours can also total thousands of dollars.

How have hours of service rules changed due to COVID-19?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and national emergency, hours of service rules have been relaxed for truckers directly helping emergency relief efforts. Here’s what trucking companies and drivers need to know:

On March 13, 2020, the FMCSA issued an  Emergency Declaration providing HOS and other regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the nationwide Coronavirus  outbreak. This was further extended and expanded on April 9 to cover the transportation of liquefied gases to be used in refrigeration or cooling systems.

On May 13, 2020 the FMCSA stated the continued COVID-19 national emergency has warranted an extension of this declaration until June 14, 2020. Keep yourself updated with the latest COVID 19 news here.

On May 14, the FMCSA  published the final rule for HOS offering the trucking industry  greater flexibility. The final rule is a result of hours-of-service reform that began in February 2018, when the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), petitioned the FMCSA. The ruling makes four key revisions to existing HOS rules:

  •   The 30-minute break rule can now be satisfied by the on-duty/not driving status, rather than off-duty status. 
  •   The sleeper berth exception will now allow drivers to split their 10 hours off duty into an 8/2 split or a 7/3 split.
  •   The adverse driving conditions exception has been changed—the maximum window during which driving is permitted is extended by two hours.
  •   The short-haul exception has been changed to lengthen drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extend the distance limit within drivers may operate, from 100 to 150 air miles. 

The latest HOS regulatory update: Effective September 29, 2020

On June 1, 2020, the FMCSA revised the HOS regulations effective September 29, 2020. These new rules will help provide drivers with greater flexibility keeping safety in mind. There are four core changes:

  1. The short-haul exemption has been expanded to 150 air-miles and a 14-hour work shift.
  2. The driving window during adverse driving conditions has been expanded up to an additional 2 hours
  3. A 30-minute break is required after 8 hours of driving time instead of on-duty time.

The sleeper berth exception now allows the driver to meet the 10-hour off-duty minimum by spending at least 7 rather than 8 hours in the berth.

Stay up to date on the latest COVID-19 news here on our blog.

Verizon Connect

Verizon Connect Staff represents a team of professionals passionate about everything telematics. Get to hear about the latest trends, product features and industry best practices from the desk of Verizon Connect Staff.

Tags: ELD & Compliance, Inspections

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