Hours of Service regulations are rules lined out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) designed to address driver fatigue. The idea is that with these regulations in place, drivers would be able to get plenty of rest and be more alert when operating their vehicles, promoting safety on the road.
Here are some key provisions of the HOS rules:
Drivers are limited to a maximum of 11 hours of driving daily after a 10-hour off-duty period.
Drivers are limited to 14 hours of daily on-duty time, including driving time and other work-related activities.
Drivers are required to take a 30-minute break after 8 hours of driving time.
Drivers are prohibited from driving beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following a 10-hour off-duty period.
Drivers are limited to a maximum of 60/70 hours of on-duty time over 7/8 consecutive days.
Drivers must use ELDs to record their hours of service. These devices automatically record driving time and help ensure that drivers comply with HOS rules.
In addition to these HOS regulations there are also other laws that govern truck driver fatigue. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) requires carriers to establish and enforce fatigue management programs, and to provide drivers with adequate rest breaks and time off. There may also be requirements specific to each state related to HOS.
Not complying with the HOS regulations can result in fines, penalties and in severe cases revocation of your operating authority. The FMCSA provides detailed information about HOS regulations, Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), and other HOS related regulations.
HOS Compliance Tips
Accurate logs. Use an electronic logging device (ELD) or paper logbook to track service hours accurately. Record all on-duty time, driving time, and rest breaks. Falsifying logs is guaranteed to get you in more trouble than not having the log at all.
Plan ahead. Plan your route ahead of time and schedule in breaks for yourself.
Take required breaks. Per the FMCSRs you are required to take a 30-minute break after 8 hours of consecutive driving time, and take a 10-hour off-duty before starting the next shift.
Communication. Make sure to communicate any and all issues with your company or dispatcher, especially related to fatigue.
Following these tips will not only keep you in compliance with HOS regulations but will promote safety. Driving while tired puts you, your company, and everyone else on the road at risk.
Penalties for Non-Compliance
Fines. If you are caught violating HOS rules, you can be fined by the FMCSA. Fines may vary from a few hundred to several thousand dollars based on the severity of the violation.
Out-of-service orders. Non-compliance with HOS rules can result in drivers being placed out-of-service until they have rested. This will likely result in loss of income for the driver.
Negative impact on safety rating. Like all violations, HOS violations negatively impact a company's safety rating, otherwise known as a CSA Score. There are several ways bad safety ratings could negatively impact your company.
Legal liability. If a driver causes an accident because they are fatigued, they may be liable for any damages or injuries from the injury.
It is essential for truck drivers and motor carriers take HOS rules seriously and ensure they are in compliance with them. This will not only prevent driving while drowsy but also prevent accidents and help to avoid potential fines and other penalties.
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