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What are hours of service regulations for trucking?

Hours of service regulations are designed to keep the roadways safe for all parties, from motorcycles to big rigs, and to help drivers stay healthy and alert. Hours of service rules are defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and must be adhered to in all 50 states. Learning more about these important regulations helps protect your business (new fleet owners and drivers in particular need to fully review hours of service rules) and keeps the roads safe for all.

Who needs to comply with Hours of Service Regulations?

According to the FMCSA, you are required to adhere to these regulations if your company conducts interstate commerce and meets any of the following guidelines:

  • Your vehicle or truck is over 10,000 pounds
  • Your truck has a gross combination weight rating in excess of 10,000 pounds
  • Your truck is carrying hazardous materials in amounts that require you to display placards

While there are a few exceptions, most truckers and fleets must comply with regulations if they meet the criteria above. (It’s like making sure you’re heeding truck insurance requirements.)

Hours of Service Rules

There are several different rules or limits to follow for truck drivers—an 11-hour, 14-hour and 60/70 hour rule. Each must be complied with to avoid breaking Federal law. (In fact, Hours of Service is even one of the seven trucking BASICs that you need to comply with.)

14-hour Driving Window Rule

14 hours is considered the daily driving period that a single driver can perform. It means that you may drive during a 14 hour period after you have taken a rest or been off duty for 10 or more hours. This ensures you have time off and limits the amount of time you can drive per day. Every minute you are driving counts, and you should take breaks in between for rest and safety. You can’t drive all of those 14 hours – that is just the window of opportunity for driving; your maximum time behind the wheel is actually 11 hours.

11-hour Driving Limit

While the window is 14 hours, you are only allowed to log 11 hours of drive time. The rest of the time should be accounted for with breaks, meals, and rest stops. Once you have logged 11 hours on the road, it is time to take a long break – a minimum of 10 hours must pass before your next driving window opens.

Rest Breaks

A driver needs to take regular breaks for his or her own health and for the safety of others. A mandatory 30 minute rest period is required during every 8 consecutive hours on the road.

60/70-Hour Duty Limit

You have a 14-hour window each day to drive before you must take a rest, but there is a weekly limit of hours as well. Commercial drivers can only drive or be on duty for  60 hours in a 7 day period (the limit stretches to 70 hours for an 8 day period).

“On duty” time is not just actively driving; other activities count as well, including:

  • Being on site at a property or shipping agent waiting for dispatch
  • Loading, unloading, and completing paperwork
  • Preparing your vehicle, including fueling, washing, inspecting and more
  • Actual driving
  • Sitting inside or on top of the vehicle (except for those resting in an onboard sleeping berth)
  • Taking a drug test for work
  • Working a second job

Once your on-duty hours reach that 60 or 70-hour limit,  you need to take some time off. The minimum requirement is at least 34 hours before you do any of the duties outlined above. Once the 34-hour mark has passed, your weekly limit resets.

Hours-of-Service Recording

Logs are used to track hours; once these were handwritten logbooks, today they are electronic and digital, making it easier to record time and prove compliance.

Like any legislation, rules about hours of service can change, so understanding both the current laws and tracking any pending rules can ensure you are always in full compliance. Complying with hours of service regulations is just one way to protect your organization; carrying the right amount and type of insurance coverage will protect your business as well.

Contact us to learn more about insuring your fleet and protecting your business every way possible. There are many reasons why it’s important to get big rig insurance quotes. Fill out our online form or give us a call to get started with 18 wheeler insurance quotes.