As a professional driver, there are certain rules one must adhere to, including the hours of service a driver can operate. In fact, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates how long a trucker may drive. These rules are good not only for the safety of the driver, but for other motorists on the road as well. While there is much info to gain from these rules, it can be a bit complicated to comprehend. So, let’s break it down.
Hours of Service Guidelines for Property-Carrying Drivers
- After 10 consecutive off-duty hours, truckers may drive at most, 11 hours.
- As it pertains to the 60/70-hour limit; truckers cannot drive more than 60/70 hours on-duty over seven/eight consecutive days. However, after 34 or more consecutive days off, a driver may resume a 7/8 consecutive day period.
- Under the 14-hour limit ruling, following 10 consecutive off-duty hours, drivers may operate up to 14 hours.
- However, the 14-hour window may not be extended with off-duty time.
- Additionally, a mandatory 30-minute break must be taken by the driver’s eighth on-duty hour. This does not affect drivers operating under the short-haul exceptions in 395.1(e). In addition, the 49 CFR 397.5 fixed “in attendance” time may be incorporated in the break if no other duties are carried out.
- Furthermore, regarding the sleeper berth provision, drivers are required to take no less than 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, as well as a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off-duty, or an arrangement of the two.
Hours of Service Guidelines for Passenger-Carrying Drivers
- According to the 10-hour limit rule, drivers may operate up to 10 hours on-duty after 8 consecutive hours off.
- Moreover, a driver is not allowed to operate after being on duty for 15 hours, following 8 consecutive off-duty hours. It should be noted that off-duty time is not incorporated in the 15-hour window.
- Also, in 7/8 consecutive days, truckers may not drive after 60/70 hours on-duty.
- Lastly, drivers utilizing the sleeper berth must take at least 8 hours in the sleeper berth. However, the time can be split into two phases if neither time period is less than 2 hours.
Penalties for Breaking the Rules
There are severe penalties for not abiding by the hours of services mandate. For instance, until a driver amasses enough off-duty time to get back on the road, officials may force the truck to shut down. In addition, drivers may receive fines. Not to mention, the FMCSA may also collect civil penalties anywhere from $1,000 to $11,000 per violation. Apart from this, violations will also impact the driver’s safety rating. This, of course, could have the unfortunate impact of reducing an already low supply of truckers.
As carefree as the open road may seem, the rules that govern them aren’t as so. What are your thoughts on the current hours of service guidelines? Comment below!