Most drivers with a commercial motor vehicle must comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations. What are they? Do they apply to you? What does that mean? Keep reading for the answers.
HOS Regulations: Keeping Drivers Safe (and Awake)
“Long daily and weekly hours are associated with an increased risk of crashes and with the chronic health conditions associated with lack of sleep,” states the FMCSA. Published by the Federal Register in December 2011, with an effective date of February 27, 2012, the Hours of Service of Drivers final rule was enacted to reduce the possibility of driver fatigue.
In other words, HOS regulations help keep drivers and the roads safe. The regulations put limits on when, for how long, and how many total hours the driver of a heavy truck may drive, because tired drivers may struggle with staying alert and awake. And a fatigued driver is more likely to be involved in an accident.
So here’s a summary of the HOS regulations:
- 14-hour “Driving Window” Limit. You are allowed a period of 14 consecutive hours (even if you take a lunch break or nap) in which to drive up to 11 hours after being off duty for 10 or more consecutive hours.
- 11-hour Driving Limit. You are only allowed to drive your truck for up to 11 total hours during the 14-consecutive-hour period explained above. But 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.
- 60-hour/7-day and 70-hour/8-day Duty Limits. If your company does not operate vehicles every day of the week, you are not allowed to drive a commercial motor vehicle after you’ve been on duty 60 hours during any 7 consecutive days. If your company does operate vehicles every day of the week, you are not allowed to drive a commercial motor vehicle after you’ve been on duty 70 hours in any 8 consecutive days. This is optional: You can “restart” your 60- or 70-hour clock calculations by taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty (or in the sleeper berth) or some combination of both.
Get more details into these rules here.
Find out how the rules vary slightly for property-carrying and passenger-carrying drivers.
Do You Need to Comply with HOS Regulations?
If you or your drivers operate large, heavy trucks, listen up: the FMCSA defines a commercial motor vehicle is one that is used by a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and fits any of these descriptions:
- Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
- Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds 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
If you fit the description, you must comply with the Federal rules. Note, when you’re using the commercial motor vehicle for personal use—moving furniture into a new house, for example—the Federal HOS regulations do not apply.
Even if you don’t fit the description, be sure to find out about your state’s safety regulations, too. Contact the appropriate state agency, such as the police, highway patrol, or an office within your state’s department of transportation.
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