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How can a carrier improve in the HOS (Hours of Service) Compliance BASIC?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) maintains a program called Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) that ranks drivers in seven categories. One of these is Hours of Service compliance. This BASIC addresses requirements found under the FMCSA 49 CFR, Parts 392 and 395. Violations under Hours of Service include improper recordkeeping regarding Records of Duty Status (RODS).

The requirement to keep such records is to ensure that truckers don’t succumb to fatigue and make serious or fatal driving errors. Some specific actions that could cause a driver to score poorly for the Hours of Service BASIC are working more consecutive hours than allowed under FMCSA’s regulations, failing to complete RODS, or falsifying information on RODS.

Types of documents to keep to receive a better Hours of Service Rating

A safety inspector may require a commercial driver to produce a large volume of records when completing a roadside inspection. The most common ones include:

  • RODS
  • Bills of Lading
  • Carrier pros
  • Dispatch records
  • Freight bills
  • Gate record receipts
  • Electronic mobile tracking and communication records
  • Weigh and scale receipts
  • Fuel receipts

The more records that you hold onto as a driver, the less likely it is that you’ll get a worse percentile score in the Hours of Service BASIC relative to other drivers.

How to check your Hours of Service and other BASIC rankings

The Safety Management System, a division of the FMCSA, maintains a database where motor carriers, drivers, law enforcement, and sometimes the public can view safety information about specific drivers. If you see a high percentile rank next to your Hours of Service BASIC, it means the FMCSA may choose to intervene to increase your safety and compliance. The easiest way to tell if you can expect to receive communication through the FMCSA is when you have a warning symbol next to one or more of the BASIC categories. You can always dispute the information posted if you feel it’s incorrect.

How to improve your Hours of Service percentile rank

The best thing you can do for this BASIC is to understand the FMCSA’s recordkeeping requirements and abide by them. Additionally, never try to falsify or backtrack on data that you forgot to record earlier. Motor carriers must ensure that drivers understand how many hours they can drive before a mandatory rest break or time away from work. They should regularly provide education on the dangers of sleep-deprived driving and verify that drivers understand the risk. It’s also up to motor carriers to know how long their drivers have been on the road and to intervene and force time away from the wheel if necessary.

If you do receive an Hours of Service violation, pay extra attention to your recordkeeping over the next 24 months. The weight of the violation will decrease with time and fall off entirely after two years.

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