The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces several rules regarding how many hours a commercial driver may operate his or her vehicle as well as how many hours he or she can be on duty before taking a break. FMCSA drafted these hours of service (HOS) regulations to reduce drowsy driving and the related accidents. Commercial drivers need to be aware of these rules to avoid fines and out-of-service orders.
Commercial Drivers Carrying Property
There are different rules depending on the type of cargo a driver is transporting. Drivers delivering property must adhere to the following:
- 11-hour driving limit. Drivers can drive up to 11 hours provided they had 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time prior.
- 14-hour limit. Drivers may not operate their vehicle after being on duty for 14 hours. The 14-hour rule only applies after the driver completes 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time.
- Rest breaks. Drivers must allow up to eight hours after they came off duty or rested in a sleeper berth for a minimum of 30 minutes before driving again. Short haul exemptions and mandatory in attendance time exempt certain drivers from this rule.
- 60/70-hour limit. After being on duty for 60/70 hours in 7/8 consecutive days, drivers must take 34 hours or more of consecutive time off duty. The 7/8 day period resets after the driver completes the 34-hour restart.
- Sleeper berth provision. Drivers who opt to use the sleeper berth provision must take at minimum eight sequential hours in the sleeper berth as well as a separate two sequential hours in the sleeper berth, off duty, or some combination of the two.
Commercial Drivers Carrying Passengers
Commercial drivers that transport living passengers have slightly different rules. While the 60/70 hour limit and sleeper berth provision are the same, there are notable differences such as there is no regulation for rest breaks. Other variances include:
- 10-hour driving limit. Drivers can drive up to 10 hours provided they had eight consecutive hours of off-duty time prior.
- 15-hour limit. Drivers may not operate their vehicle after being on duty for 15 hours. The 15-hour rule only applies after the driver completes eight consecutive hours of off-duty time.
Failing to comply with HOS rules can land drivers in hot water. FMCSA may subject them to fines or place them out of service entirely depending on the severity and frequency of the violation(s). These are just some of the numerous safety regulations commercial drivers need to know. As a transportation insurance expert, Cline Wood can help drivers and fleets identify areas of risk as well as implement solutions to mitigate them. To learn more, contact us today.
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