Truckers HOS - 7 Rules

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Hours of service violations are the number one cited violation during roadside inspections. It’s the principle reason for the ELD mandate, which requires commercial drivers keeping a Record of Duty Status to switch from paper logs to an electronic logging device by December 2017. Avoiding these violations is easy if you know the HOS rules, but many drivers and fleet managers are ill-informed.

1. Know your cycle: Driving cycles depend on how many days of the week your carrier operates. If your carrier operates every day of the week, you are eligible to operate under the 70-hour/8-day cycle, which limits a driver to 70 on-duty hours over any 8-day period. If your carrier operates for fewer than 7 days in a week, you are eligible to operate under the 60-hour/7-day cycle, which limits a driver to 60 on-duty hours over any 7-day window.
2. Restarting your drive cycle: If you want to completely refresh your driving cycle, you must take 34 consecutive hours off-duty. The 34-hour restart has undergone recent changes over the past year, but this is the most up-to-date requirement for a restart and the only one you need to know.
3. The 14-hour rule: When a driver comes on-duty after taking at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty, he or she has a 14-hour window to complete driving for the day. Although driving is not permitted after the 14th hour, other work-related tasks may still be performed.
4. The 11-hour rule: Within the 14-hour driving window, you are allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours.
5. The 30-minute break: No driving is allowed after any 8-hour on-duty period until a driver has taken the mandatory 30-minute off-duty break.
6. Sleeper berth extension: The sleeper berth extension allows drivers to extend their 14-hour window without taking the required 10 hours off-duty. By logging at least 8 hours (but no more than 10 hours) in the sleeper berth, a driver can effectively freeze the 14-hour clock.
7. Split sleeper berth: The split sleeper berth allows drivers to split the required 10 hour off-duty break into two shifts. One of those shifts must be between 8-10 hours, spent entirely in the sleeper. The second shift can be between 2-8 hours and completed in the sleeper berth, off-duty, or as a combination of sleeper berth and off-duty. Regardless of the order in which a driver takes these breaks, successful completion of both will give the driver a new 11-hour drive time and 14-hour driving window, which begins after completion of the first qualifying break.

These seven rules cover the major HOS rules for commercial vehicles. Familiarizing yourself with the HOS basics can help you avoid fines and keep you out of trouble.