Hours of Services Basics for Truckers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the trucking industry and sets a variety of requirements that truckers and motor carriers must follow. These include limits on hours of service, also known as HOS. It’s essential for drivers to know these requirements and to stay in compliance with them.

What is the Purpose of HOS Regulations?

The FMCSA sets a cap on driving hours and on-duty hours in order to prevent truck driver fatigue. Driving while tired is dangerous and not only puts yourself at risk but also others on the road. The limits on hours of service are based on research from the FMCSA and are intended to give truck drivers enough time to rest during their hauls.

Hours of Service Limits

The limits on hours of service are as follows for property-carrying drivers:

  • After 10 consecutive hours off duty, truckers may drive for a maximum of 11 hours.
  • After the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, property-carrying drivers must stop driving until they take 10 consecutive hours off duty. Any off-duty time taken during the 14 hours does not extend this window.
  • After driving eight cumulative hours without a 30-minute break, drivers must take such a break. Any non-driving period satisfies the requirements, even if it is on duty.
  • Within 7/8 consecutive days, drivers may drive a maximum of 60/70 hours. This limit only restarts after taking 34 consecutive hours off duty.

The limits on hours of service are as follows for passenger-carrying drivers:

  • After eight consecutive hours off duty, drivers can drive for a maximum of 10 hours.
  • Drivers must stop driving after a maximum of 15 consecutive hours on duty. As is the case with property-carrying drivers, off-duty time does not extend this window.
  • In a period of 7/8 consecutive days, passenger-carrying drivers may drive a maximum of 60/70 hours.

Exemptions and Special Cases

Within these HOS rules, there are some exemptions and special cases to be aware of.

Some of these include:

Short-Haul Drivers

Drivers who operate within a 150 air-mile radius of the location where they normally report to work and who do not exceed a maximum duty period of 14 hours are exempt from HOS rules.

Sleeper Berth

The required off-duty period (10 hours for property-carrying drivers and eight for passenger-carrying drivers) can be split in certain circumstances.

Property-carrying drivers can split their off-duty period into one period of at least two hours and a separate period of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth. Any pairing must add up to at least ten hours, and when used together, neither break counts against the 14-hour driving window.

Passenger-carrying drivers who use a sleeper berth can split their time into two separate periods as long as neither is less than two hours and they add up to at least 10 hours.

Adverse Driving Conditions

Both passenger-carrying and property-carrying drivers can extend their driving limit and driving window by up to two hours if there are adverse driving conditions that make it unsafe to stop.

Learn Valuable Trucking Skills

If you are interested in becoming a truck driver, Phoenix Truck Driving School’s programs can help you get started. You can earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in as little as four weeks and our instructors will go over a variety of topics, including hours of service regulations.

To learn more about our CDL training in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas, contact us today.