Truck drivers are responsible not only for their own safety and that of the cargo they transport but also for the safety of others on the road. To help improve safety, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has various guidelines that truckers must follow. One example is hours of service, or HOS, regulations. The DOT’s HOS rules limit the amount of time truck drivers can be behind the wheel. If you are a driver, it is important for you to fully understand these rules.
Hours of Service for Property-Carrying Drivers
In most cases, you will need to track your hours of service using an electronic logging device (ELD). These records can be audited at various times, including during roadside truck inspections. If you violate DOT regulations, you can be placed off-duty at one of these stops. You and your motor carrier can also be subject to fines or other penalties, depending on the severity of the violation.
If you are hauling freight, then the following rules and regulations apply:
On-Duty and Driving Hours
You can drive a maximum of 11 hours and spend a maximum of 14 hours on-duty before you must take 10 consecutive hours off-duty. This is not a daily limit as drivers can in theory drive for 11 hours, rest for 10 hours, then begin driving again during one 24-hour period. If there are unforeseeable adverse driving conditions that make it impossible for you to safely stop, you can extend your driving time by up to two hours, for a total of 13 hours of driving. However, this does not extend the maximum on-duty time.
You should be aware that any time spent working counts as on-duty time. This includes if you have a second job, even if it does not involve driving.
Rest Breaks and Off-Duty Time
You are only allowed to drive for 8 consecutive hours before needing to go off-duty or take a sleeper-berth break of 30 minutes or more. This is in addition to the 10 off-duty hours you must take after 14 hours on duty. However, you can split up your 10 off-duty hours by spending eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and a separate two consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and/or off-duty.
60/70 Hour Limit
You can drive a maximum of 60 hours in a seven-day timeframe or a maximum of 70 hours in an eight-day timeframe. To reset this limit, you need to take 34 consecutive hours off-duty.
The Role of Your Motor Carrier
As a driver, you need to be aware of and follow HOS rules. Your motor carrier should support you in doing this and keep you informed of all relevant regulations. At DSW, our management is made up of former drivers and we understand what life on the road is like. As a result, we make sure to work with you and help make it easy to understand any expectations and rules.