Hours-of Service Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and its state enforcement partners have developed regulations they claim benefit drivers by giving them an increased opportunity to obtain necessary rest and sleep while recognizing the operational realities of the trucking industry. They claim the new rules will improve highway safety and help reduce the number of commercial crashes and related injuries and deaths.

The hours-of-service regulations govern drivers transporting freight in interstate commerce in property-carrying commercial vehicles with a gross weight rating (GWR) of 10,001 pounds or more, and operating vehicles carrying hazardous materials in quantities requiring vehicle placards.

Rules for the driver's daily log (record-of-duty status form) are unchanged for truck drivers.

Hours-of-Service summary high-lights:

  • Daily cycle: 10-hours off and 14-hours on
  • Driving Time: 11 hours
  • Off Duty: 10 CONSECUTIVE hours
  • Breaks: Breaks during on-duty time are up to you
    and your company, i.e., they're discretionary.
  • Weekly break: a minimum of 34 consecutive hours
    (1 day-10 hours)
  • Week hours: If a company runs trucks daily, a driver may not drive after 70 hours logged on-duty in 8 days. Time logged as off-duty is not counted in calculating on-duty time. If a company does not run trucks daily, a driver may not drive after 60 hours logged on-duty in 7 days.
  • Re-start: The minimum break of 34 consecutive hours re-starts the weekly cycle.
  • Sleeper Berths: Driver, alone or as a team, may take the 10-hours off-duty time in 2 periods in their berth; neither period may be less than 2 hours. The 2 sleeper berth periods must equal 10 hours within a single daily cycle.
  • Waiting Time: Waiting time is part of your on-duty time, it is not a part of your driving time.

Violations of the hours-of-service regulations, by drivers or carriers, may result in stiff penalties:

  • Drivers may be placed out-of-service at the road-side until the driver has enough accumulated time off-duty to be in compliance with the regulations.
  • A carrier's safety rating can be down-graded for a pattern of violations.
  • FMCSA may impose civil penalties on the driver and/or the carrier; penalties range from $550 to $11,000 per violation, depending on the severity and pattern of the violation.
  • State and local enforcement officials may also assess fines.
  • Federal criminal penalties can be brought against carriers who knowingly allow or require hours-of-service violations.

Waiting time at a terminal, plant, port or wharehouse is now considered ON-DUTY. This is a major change and potentially reduces available daily driving time. Time spent loading and un-loading may be charged back to the shippers and receivers, however, as an independent owner-operator you will need to negotiate this in advance. What is a “reasonable” loading and un-loading time in one industry is not in another. Weather may also be a factor even though loading and un-loading is a planned routine. Take a clue from the insurance companies policies and define “acts of God” for what will and will not be paid.

OFF-DUTY time during the day (or night) – meal-times logged as off-duty time – does not extend the 14-hour on-duty time. Off-duty breaks do not extend the 14-hours on-duty time, however, time logged as off-duty is not calculated in the 60/70- hours WEEKLY on-duty time. Whenever a driver has completed a 34-consecutive-hour off period, he may re-start the 60/70 hour on-duty week.

Hours-of-service regulations include Canadian and Mexican drivers, and any commercial driver driving with the U.S.A.; even if a driver is driving for a foreign-owned company, they must follow the hours-of-service and keep current daily logs for the 7/8 consecutive day periods.

The FMCSA (federal motor carrier safety act) is a separate administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation.

There are 4 regional centers, the headquarters being located in Washington, D.C. The federal address is:

200 7th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20590

The FMCSA's mission is to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving commercial trucks and buses. It's responsible for the hours-of-regulation compliance. The other FMCSA programs related to owner-operators are:

  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR)
  • The Commercial Driver's License Program (CDLP)
  • New Entrant Safety Assurance Process
  • Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR)
  • Motor Carrier Safety Identification and Informational Systems.

Related web-sites:

http://fmcsa.dot.gov/ntc (training materials related to the
different programs, in English and Spanish.

Hiring VA Drivers

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