What Are Hours of Service?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the hours of service (HOS) that commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators work in an effort to reduce the number of accidents that occurs due to driver fatigue. As a CDL truck driver, it’s important to keep track of driving hours, and on-duty and off-duty hours.

Here are some answers to the most commonly asked HOS questions:

  • How many miles can a truck driver drive in a day?
    • FMCSA regulates the hours a truck driver works in a given period, not the number of miles. You can drive any amount of miles as long as it fits within the HOS.
  • How many days in a row can a truck driver work?
    • Truck drivers may work 7 or 8 days weeks (depending on how the motor carrier operates) but they must have a break of at least 34 hours in a row before starting a new work period.
  • What is on-duty time?
    • On-duty time is defined as any time a truck driver is working such as: time waiting to be dispatched, servicing any truck, driving time, getting gas, unloading/loading. On-duty time includes all time the driver works for a motor carrier, whether paid or not, and all time they are doing paid work for anyone else.
  • What is off-duty time?
    • In order for time to be considered off-duty, the truck driver must be relieved of all duty and responsibility for performing work.
  • How many hours can truck drivers drive in a day?
    • CDL truck drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Once a driver has driven a total of 11 hours, they have reached the driving limit and must be off duty for another 10 consecutive hours (or equivalent) before driving a truck again.
  • What is the 14 hour rule?
    • After 10 consecutive hours off-duty, truck drivers may work and drive up to the 14th consecutive hour mark after they’ve come on-duty. This rule is still limited by the 11 hour driving limitation, and off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
  • What is the 16 hour rule?
    • The 16 hour short-haul exception allows truck drivers to extend their daily window by 2 hours once every 7 days. It does not extend the 11 hour driving limitation, but rather gives an extra 2 hours to complete work.
  • How long can truck drivers drive without a break?
    • Truck driving is not permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes. Drivers must take an off-duty break of at least 30 minutes before they resume driving.
  • What Is the Adverse Driving Conditions Exception?
    • If unexpected adverse driving conditions slow down the truck driver, they may drive up to 2 extra hours to complete what could have been driven in normal conditions. This means they could drive up to 13 hours. Even though they may drive 2 extra hours under this exception, they must not drive after the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, and drivers must comply with the minimum 30-minute rest break provisions.
  • What is the 60/70-Hour Duty Limit?
    • The limit is based on a rolling 7-day or 8-day period. The oldest day’s hours drop off at the end of each day when calculating the total on-duty time for the past 7 or 8 days.
      • If a company does not operate vehicles every day of the week, that truck driver is not allowed to drive a commercial motor vehicle after they’ve been on duty 60 hours during any 7 consecutive days.
      • If a company does operate vehicles every day of the week, the employer may assign a driver to the 70-hour/8-day schedule. This means that they are not allowed to drive a commercial motor vehicle after they’ve been on-duty 70 hours in any 8 consecutive days.
  • What is the 34 hour restart rule?
    • The hours-of-service regulations allows truck drivers to “restart” their 60- or 70-hour clock calculations by taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
  • What is the Sleeper Berth Provision?
    • Truck drivers using the sleeper berth provision must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.
  • What is the ELD mandate?
    • The ELD mandate requires replacing paper logs and an earlier type of recorder called an Automatic On-Board Recording Device with automated electronic logging device technology. The main purpose of the ELD mandate is to record data related to the operation of the vehicle, and driver activity relating to HOS.

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