The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the US Department of Transportation, has established guidelines called hours of service rules that specify how long anyone operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) may work each day. Both bus and truck drivers fall under this category. These regulations set a daily and weekly driving hour cap as well as the minimum amount of downtime required between driving shifts. The log book that a CMV driver uses to track their working hours must include the total number of hours spent driving and sleeping as well as the moment when their duty status changed.

Federal and state agencies both regulate a driver’s working hours. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) on a national level include the drivers’ hours of service. The FMCSA, a division of the Department of Transportation (DOT), is responsible for issuing and enforcing them.

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: Driving time includes all time spent behind the wheel. You cannot drive for another 11 hours without first taking off for 10 straight hours.

14 Consecutive Hours on Duty: A commercial motor vehicle operator is not permitted to operate a commercial vehicle for 14 hours straight after reporting for duty. Until after 10 hours of uninterrupted rest, a driver cannot operate a vehicle. The 14-hour window is not extended by lunchtime or other free time. The driver must complete the 14 hours in a row starting when their tour of duty begins.

60/70 Hours of Service Rule: If a driver has worked 60 hours in any 7 consecutive days for a company that doesn’t operate motor vehicles every day of the week, they are not allowed to drive. If your business uses vehicles every day of the week, you are not allowed to operate a vehicle after spending 70 hours on the job in any 8 straight days. Nevertheless, even after reaching these restrictions, you are still permitted to carry out non-driving tasks without breaking the law. (The term “on-duty time” refers to the entire period of time between the time you start working or are required to report for duty and the time you are released from all duties.

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: Drivers are required to record their hours of service so that their adherence to the aforementioned regulations can be verified. Your motor carrier can decide which format best fits how it operates. A log book is another name for this.

Serious issues arise from driver fatigue. You can see why there are laws to prevent tired drivers from operating commercial vehicles because it is one of the major factors in heavy truck crashes, which account for thousands of fatalities annually. It makes sense that if you drive for a long time, you get tired, which is the foundation of the hours of service regulations… and dangerous.

You can save money by abiding by the law, maintaining accurate records, and avoiding costly fines and suspensions from work. Above all, following the rules could spare a life or at least stop an accident. -JJ Keller “Driver’s guide to hours of service”

The fundamental guidelines for hours of service are just that—basic. If you would like to find out more, please click here

Noah Ostroff

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