Understanding U.S. Hours-of-Service Rules

Feb 24, 2022

Share

We know that hours-of-service regulations may seem complex at first. Still, drivers and carriers need to stay up to date with these regulations. So we decided to summarize the key elements and help you navigate the rules. And since a picture is worth a thousand words, we’re also sharing a real-life example of a driver’s day further down in (keep reading!).

Hours-of-service regulations defined

Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations are issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in the United States. They specify the maximum amount of time drivers are permitted to be on duty, including driving time and specifies the number and length of rest periods. The HOS’s primary purpose is to help ensure overall road safety, prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue, and improve drivers’ quality of life.

Who must comply with HOS rules?

Most carriers and drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMV) must comply with HOS regulations found in article 49 CFR 395. A CMV is a vehicle that is used for business,  is involved in interstate commerce and fits any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 lbs or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 lbs or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

 

HOS rules overview for property-carrying drivers

11-Hour Driving Limit

A driver may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.

14-Hour Limit

A driver may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty. The driver can’t resume driving unless they have taken 10 consecutive hours off-duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.

30-Minute Driving Break

Drivers must stop driving if more than 8 hours of driving have passed without at least a consecutive 30-minute interruption of driving. The break (or interruption of driving time) can be satisfied by any non-driving activity or a combination of non-driving activities of 30 consecutive minutes.

10 minutes off-duty + 20 minutes on-duty, not driving = 30 consecutive minutes break

70-Hour Limit (cycle)

A driver may not drive after cumulating 70 hours on duty in 8 consecutive days. A driver may restart an 8 consecutive day period at any time after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

Looking for the Canadian HOS rules overview? Check out this blog: Understanding the HOS Rules and Exemptions in Canada

A day in the life of a truck driver respecting the U.S. HOS regulations

Commonly used provisions

Here’s a quick overview of commonly used provisions of the hours-of-service regulations to provide greater flexibility for drivers while maintaining safety on the roads.

Short-haul exception

Drivers using the short-haul exception are not required to fill out a log with a graph grid or use an electronic logging device (ELD). To be allowed to use the short-haul exception, they must:

  • operate within a 150 air-mile radius of the normal work reporting location
  • not exceed a maximum duty period of 14 hours
  • start and end their shift at the same work reporting location
  • have at least 10 hours off between shifts

The motor carrier must record the driver’s time in, time out, and the total number of hours per day. Records must be maintained for 6 months. For new hires or drivers used intermittently, the time record must include the total time for the 7 preceding days.

Adverse driving conditions

Drivers are allowed to extend the 11-hour maximum driving limit and 14-hour driving window by up to 2 hours when adverse driving conditions are encountered.

Adverse driving conditions means snow, ice, sleet, fog, or other adverse weather conditions or unusual road or traffic conditions that were not known, or could not reasonably be known, to:

  • a driver immediately prior to beginning the duty day or immediately before beginning driving after a qualifying rest break or sleeper berth period, or
  • a motor carrier immediately prior to dispatching the driver

Note that drivers cannot use the adverse driving conditions exception to cover delays caused by: detention time, breakdowns, enforcement inspections, loading or unloading.

Sleeper berth provision

Drivers may split their required 10-hour off-duty period, as long as:

  • One off-duty period (in or out of the sleeper berth) is at least 2 hours long and
  • The other off-duty period involves at least 7 consecutive hours spent in the sleeper berth.
  • All sleeper berth pairings add up to at least 10 hours.

When used together, neither period counts against the maximum 14- hour driving window

When using the sleeper berth provision, the order of the qualifying breaks does not matter—the break of “at least 2 hours” can fall before or after the sleeper berth period of “at least 7 hours.”

Your partner in staying compliant

Understanding the HOS rules is one thing. Staying compliant is another. Using a reliable and driver-friendly ELD such as ISAAC’s helps ensure your fleet’s compliance. Your drivers’ logs are updated automatically with the correct duty status as they drive and perform activities, all in sync with their trip sheet. Drivers also receive real-time notifications to avoid HOS violations.

If you’re looking for an ELD solution, but are not sure what questions to ask the provider, watch our webinar hosted jointly by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA).

Disclaimer: The information presented in this post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.

About the author

Melanie Simard

Director Compliance, Client Service & Technical Support, ISAAC Instruments

Melanie Simard is Director of Compliance, Client Service & Technical Support at ISAAC. She brings these three groups together to ensure ISAAC clients receive best-in-class service and support, and to demystify all questions relating to regulatory compliance. She is passionate about this last subject, and well attuned to the kind of support ISAAC users need, as she was on that side of the equation before joining ISAAC. With over 20 years in the trucking industry, her field experience as a driver, dispatcher, compliance manager—not to mention an ISAAC user—the trucking DNA she brings to the table is a valuable asset to both ISAAC and its clients.

Time to move forward with managed technology

Recent blog articles

Prevent Wheel-off Problems with Smart Wheel Retorquing

by | Nov 11, 2022 | Best practices | 0 Comments

Wheel-off incidents can be catastrophic. Fleets can prevent these accidents with smart wheel retorquing management.

Canadian ELD Mandate—How Fleets Can Quickly Adapt

by | Nov 10, 2022 | Compliance and regulations,Industry | 0 Comments

Canada’s ELD mandate will be enforced on January 1, 2023. Fleets that haven’t transitioned can quickly adapt for compliance.

How Fleets Cut Turnover During Truck Driver Shortages

by | Oct 26, 2022 | Best practices,Industry | 0 Comments

Fleets mitigate the impact of driver shortages by focusing on driver retention and satisfaction with driver-friendly tech.

Guide to US Agricultural Exemption for Hours of Service (HOS)

by | Oct 11, 2022 | Compliance and regulations | 0 Comments

Fleets that transport agricultural products and livestock can benefit from the US agricultural exemption for HOS

Does Your Fleet Know How to Respond to a Cyberattack?

by | Oct 11, 2022 | Cybersecurity,Industry | 0 Comments

Companies that respond well to cyberattacks reduce losses and ensure business continuity. Learn how fleets can defend themselves against attacks.

Fuel Efficiency Programs Can Improve Driver Retention

by | Sep 29, 2022 | Best practices,Industry | 0 Comments

Driver retention and fuel costs are two main issues that fleets face. Fuel efficiency initiatives can support improvements for both issues at once.

A Summer of Accomplishments for ISAAC

by | Sep 22, 2022 | President’s blog | 0 Comments

As the summer of 2022 comes to a close, I find myself looking back at some of our most recent accomplishments.

Fleets Must Act to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

by | Sep 7, 2022 | Best practices,Industry | 0 Comments

Ransomware is on the rise. Fleets must protect themselves against ransomware with a strong cybersecurity plan.

What Happens at a Roadside Inspection and How to Prepare

by | Sep 7, 2022 | Compliance and regulations,Road safety | 0 Comments

Fleets and drivers undergo multiple types of roadside inspections. Focus on safety, training, and driver support to ensure compliance.

See the ISAAC solution in action

We’ll help you bring out the best in your team.

Why ISAAC Overview →

Advantages

Service

Fleet Benefits

Solve major trucking challenges

Driver Happiness

Simplify the life of your drivers

ELD Reliability

Benefit from reliable technology

Cost Savings

Save money in various ways

Safety and Compliance

Ensure safe and compliant operations

Carrier Experience

Expect outstanding service as a client

Solution Innovation

Future proof your technology

Client Success

Get inspired by real-life examples

Solution Overview →
Highlights
Components
Evolution

Game-Changing Features

Give your fleet an extra edge

Built for Trucking

Equip your fleet with durable tools

Predictive Workflow

Guide drivers with a simple workflow

Smart Compliance

Make compliance simple

Real-time Coaching

Achieve greater fuel efficiency

Remote Tablet Control

Enable effective teamwork

ELD and Fleet Telematics

Discover a built-for-trucking solution

Fleet Management Portal

Centralized portal for your office team

Driver-Friendly App

Versatile and user-friendly tool

Communication Gateway

Keep your team and drivers connected

Connected Cameras

Enhance safety, protect reputations

Open Platform

Get the most of your technology

Latest Innovations

Choose an innovation-driven partner
Resource Hub Overview →
Content
Help

Blog

Read about a variety of trucking topics

Guides

Get inspired with in-depth reads

Videos

Watch our solution in action

Webinars

Learn from industry experts

Tech Support

Get timely technical support

FAQ About ELDs in Canada

Find detailed compliance information
Company Overview →
Don't Miss
About
Inquiries

Events

Come meet us across North America

News

Read trucking and technology news

2022 User Conference

Register for our exclusive client event

Associations

Our involvement in the trucking industry

Contact us

Ask us anything, we're happy to help
Careers Overview →
Join Us

Available Positions

Join a team renown for its culture!

Awards and Recognition

Testimony to our winning culture

Culture

Check out life at ISAAC

Perks and Benefits

Find a healthy work-life balance