What are the Hours-of-Service rules & who has to comply?

The hours-of-service (HOS) rules are used to keep CMV drivers fully alert on the roads. Therefore, they limit the length of time a driver can spend behind the wheel on a daily and weekly basis. In order to ensure the driver has not spent too much time on the road, he or she must keep a daily log. Different HOS rules apply to different vehicles and how those vehicles are being used.

For example, a truck driver with hazardous materials driving on the interstate would have different HOS rules than a bus driver with passengers driving on the interstate. The specific HOS rules as specified by the FMCSRs apply to drivers operating CMVs in interstate commerce, regardless of private or for hire operations.

If HOS rules only apply to interstate commerce, what rules does an intrastate driver follow?

A driver driving within one state for the entirety of the trip must follow that state’s HOS rules. Many states have either similar or identical rules to the federal standard. However, if at any time a driver has to cross state lines (even just once), he or she MUST be in full compliance with the federal HOS rules for the entirety of the trip and for the following week.

The FMCSR has outlined several exemptions for operations that are not required to follow the HOS rules. These include:

  • All school bus operations
  • Federal government or state or local government transportation
  • Occasional transportation of personal property when there is no compensation involved
  • Transportation of sick, injured, or deceased persons
  • Operation of fire trucks and rescue vehicles during an emergency
  • Operation of CMV carrying between 9 to 15 people not for direct compensation
  • Emergency drivers responding to a pipeline emergency or transporting winter heating fuel
  • Utility service vehicle drivers
  • Covered farm vehicle drivers
  • Certain railroad signal employees
  • Certain drivers transporting agricultural commodities or farm supplies within a 150-air mile radius

What are the five basic rules of HOS according to the FMCSRs?

There are five basic rules of hours-of-service that every property-carrying CMV driver should know:

  1. 10 hours off duty
  2. 8 hours on duty
  3. 11 hours driving
  4. 14 hours on duty
  5. 60/70 hours on duty.

If the driver adheres to these rules, they should be in the clear. The 10 hours off duty rule states that a driver may not drive without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.

According to the FMCSR, there are four ways to get the 10 hours of rest:

  1. Spend 10 consecutive hours off duty
  2. Spend 10 consecutive hours in a sleeper berth
  3. Spend 10 consecutive hours using a combination of both #1 #2
  4. Split the 10 hours into two separate periods with driving or other on-duty activities in between.

The 8 hours on duty rule states that driving is not permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes. Additionally, this “rest period” must be spent off duty and/or in a sleeping berth.

The 11 hours driving rule states that a driver may not drive a CMV for more than 11 total hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Therefore, the driver must get at least 10 hours of off-duty time after driving 11 consecutive hours before he or she can drive again.

The 14 hours on duty rule states that a driver may drive only during a period of 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty. After the end of the 14 consecutive hour period, the driver must take 10 consecutive hours off duty. So, drivers are allowed their 11 hours of driving within this 14 hour period of time.

The 60/70 hours on duty rule states that a driver may not drive a CMV after having been on duty 60 hours in any period of 7 consecutive days for companies that do not operate CMVs 7 days a week. For companies that operate CMVs 7 days a week, a driver may not drive after having been on duty for 70 hours in any period of 8 consecutive days.