DOT Hours of Service

Truck driver inside the cabin of a semi-truckIf a transport professional is tired because they haven’t had enough rest, it can become a big problem for them and motorists they share the road with. Delivering shipments on time is important in the transportation industry, but being well rested is equally important. The FMCSA, or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration created the current set of rules for hours of service in 2013. The recent changes and regulations around the trucking industry are designed to increase safety and give the managers of fleets better insight into how to make improvements.

Hours of Service Rules

Trucking professionals carrying property may drive for up to 11 hours, provided they had a 10 hour off-duty rest period before it. Another aspect of hours of service is that a driver cannot exceed 14 hours in one shift. The 14 hours would have involved at least 3 hours of non-driving time. Drivers are not allowed to work over 60 hours in a consecutive, 7-day period and 70 hours in an 8-day period. Inside of every 8 hours of service, a driver must take a break of no less than 30 minutes.

Recent Changes to the 34-Hour Restart Rule

Changes recently occurred to the rules about the 34-hour off duty restart period. Until recently, to reset their 7 or 8-day work week, drivers had to rest for 34 consecutive hours, which also included two stretches during 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Drivers were also only allowed to reset their work week once every 7 days. As of March 9, 2017, it is no longer required to have two periods of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. as part of your 34-hour rest period. Drivers are also allowed to reset their work weeks whenever they want.

Bad Weather Exception

Adverse weather conditions can make transport come to a grinding halt. Every driver knows how rain, snow and even fog can slow your drive down and when you drive for a living, it can really have a negative effect on your day’s performance. In the cases of extreme weather, the FMCSA allows for 2 hours of extra road time than in normal conditions. This means a driver can drive up to 13 hours as part of their shift.

The Extended 16-Hour Exception

Not all truck driving professionals are carrying cargo across multiple states, some drivers have a more local route. There is an exception called the 16-hour rule, that is designed to give these drivers ample time to deliver their load and return home. This exception is primarily for drivers who have a one day work schedule that includes a driver starting and ending at the same terminal location. Part of this exception is that the short haul driver cannot have used the exception in the last 6 days without a 34-hour restart period. Drivers are not allowed to use the 16-hour exception and the Adverse Driving Conditions exception at the same time.

Penalties for Violating Hours of Service Rules

Carriers and drivers can be financially affected for hours of service violations. FMCSA can inflict fines anywhere from $1,000 to $11,000 per infraction depending on the severity and nature of the specific violation. A carrier can take a hit in their safety rating on a host of safety measuring systems such as DataQs, QCMobile, A&I Online, SAFER System, and SMS. Local and state law enforcement can stop a driver on the side of the road until they are rested enough to continue, and they can also fine a driver. Federal criminal penalties can also be charged against carriers and drivers who knowingly and willingly violate hours of service rules and regulations.