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The hours-of-service laws were first established more than 60 years ago to protect truck drivers from being on the road when they were weary and from dishonest dispatchers and shippers.


There are restrictions on how many hours you may drive and how many hours you can work, and all drivers of property-carrying vehicles must abide by these rules. Following the hours-of-service laws, you must also keep a driver's log (a record of your job status). This chapter of our ELDT course covers particular needs.


Who Must Comply?


The hours-of-service requirements may be found in Part 395 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and must be followed by all motor carriers and drivers who operate property-carrying commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce (FMCSRs).


If you operate any of the vehicles described below, you must comply with the hours-of-service requirements covered in this chapter:


  • A car having a gross vehicle weight rating, gross combination weight rating, gross vehicle weight, or gross combination weight of at least 10,001 pounds (4,537 kilograms);

  • Any size vehicle carrying enough hazardous items to warrant a sticker.


Drivers of some kinds of passenger-carrying vehicles must also adhere to specified hours-of-service regulations. For further information, see Part 395


11 Hours Driving Time


Driving time is any time spent operating a vehicle. You can't drive again for at least 10 straight hours until you've had at least 11 hours off work.


Adverse driving conditions — Snow, sleet, fog, and other unexpectedly odd road and traffic conditions are examples of adverse driving circumstances. This would be a set of circumstances that were unknown before the voyage began. You may drive for an extra 2 hours during your 14 consecutive hours of duty time if you encounter a hazardous driving situation that prevents you from finishing a run that would typically be safe to finish within the authorized driving hours.


14 Consecutive Hours on Duty


Your 14 hours of duty time must be spread out over 11 hours of driving time.


The 14 hours start when your tour of duty officially begins. This 14-consecutive-hour period is not extended by lunch breaks or other unscheduled times.


You cannot drive again until you have been off duty for at least 10 straight hours after this 14-hour window has passed. After the 14th hour, you may go on working, but you may not operate a vehicle.


For example, if you begin your work day at 6 a.m. you may not drive after 8​. Before getting behind the wheel again, you must have at least 10 hours off work straight.


Short haul exception — If you often go back to your usual work reporting site, you may sometimes utilize an exemption to the 14-hour duty limit.


Under this exception, you are allowed to accumulate 11 hours of driving time within 16 consecutive hours of duty once every 7 days, provided you:

  • Return to your work reporting location on that day, and are released from duty at that work reporting location for the previous 5 on-duty days;

  • Are released from duty within 16 hours after coming on duty (no additional on-duty time after 16 hours); and

  • You haven't utilized this exemption in the last six days in a row (unless you're satisfied with the 34-hour restart requirement; see 60/70 hour regulations).


Sleeper Berth


If you choose the sleeper berth option, you may complete the necessary 10 hours of unscheduled time in two such periods as long as:​​

  • At least 8 straight hours, but no more than 10, are spent in the sleeping berth; and

  • A separate time of at least two hours, but no more than ten is spent in the sleeping berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.


The entire driving time is calculated. After the first two periods are over, the compliance calculation must be redone.


Except for any sleeper-berth intervals lasting at least 8 (but not more than 10,) consecutive hours, the 14-hour duty limit applies to all time. After the first two periods are over, the compliance calculation must be redone.


When selecting this option, the following actions must be taken before you may continue driving within the bounds of the law:


  • At least 10 consecutive hours off duty;

  • ​​At least 10 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth; or

  • ​​A combination of at least 10 consecutive hours of off duty and sleeper berth time


The 60-Hour/7 Day and the 70-Hour/8 Day Rules


You need to grasp what is meant by "on-duty time" to fully comprehend this regulation. On-duty time is defined as all the time between when you start working or are expected to be ready for work and when you are relieved of all job-related duties. Time spent is included in this:


  1. Waiting to be dispatched;
  2. Inspecting, servicing, or conditioning a commercial motor vehicle;

  3. Driving (at the controls of your vehicle);

  4. All time spent in or on your commercial motor vehicle (CMV), except driving time, excluding:


  • Time spent resting on a parked vehicle (except when attending to a CMV containing Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 (explosive) material);

  • ​​Time spent resting in a sleeper berth; or

  • ​​Up to 2 hours riding in the passenger seat of a property-carrying CMV moving on a highway immediately before or after a sleeper-berth period of at least 8 consecutive hours;


5. ​​Loading or unloading your vehicle;​

​6. Repairing, obtaining assistance, or attending a disabled vehicle;​

​7. Performing any other work for a motor carrier;

​8. Complying with drug or alcohol testing requirements;

9. Performing work for pay for any other employer (motor carrier or non-motor carrier).


The 60-hour/7-day rule states that you are not allowed to drive after working 60 or more hours in 7 straight days.


The 70-hour/8-day rule states that you are not allowed to drive after working 70 hours on any 8 straight days.


You must include any non-driving tasks you do after exceeding either restriction to your overall on-duty time.


The 60-hour/7-day plan is required for businesses that don't run CMVs every day of the week.


The 60-hour/7-day schedule or the 70-hour/8-day plan may be used by a business that runs cars every day of the week.


One approach to monitoring the 60 or 70-hour restriction is using a monthly summary sheet.


Remember, the 7 or 8 consecutive days does not mean a “work week.” It means any 7- or 8-consecutive day period.


You don’t “start over” counting hours. The oldest day’s hours drop out of consideration as each new day’s hours are added.


Hour restart — A "restart" clause is included in the rules. By doing this, you may "restart" the 60 or 70-hour clock after at least 34 straight hours off work. Anytime is suitable for doing this. You may choose to use this option at any time before finishing your 60 or 70 hours.


The Driver’s Record of Duty Status


The regulations require you to record your duty status (in duplicate) every 24 hours.


You must use a form that includes a vertical or horizontal graph grid and the following information:

  • Date;

  • Total miles driven today;

  • 24-hour period starting time (selected by the driver’s home terminal);

  • Driver’s signature/certification

  • Main office address;

  • Remarks;

  • Truck or tractor and trailer number;

  • Carrier’s name;

  • Co-driver’s name (if applicable);

  • Total hours in each duty status (at end of grid); and

  • Shipping document number(s), or shipper name and commodity.


Completing Your Record of Duty Status


The record of duty status must be filled out in your handwriting. The carrier name and main office address are two examples of specific things that could be preprinted.


There are four categories to use when recording your time:


  1. Off duty;
  2. Sleeper berth;

  3. Driving;

  4. On duty (not driving).


The total in all four categories must add up to 24 hours.


The record must be legible and kept current to the time shown for the last change of duty status.


All changes in duty status must be noted with the location (city, town, village, and state) in the notes area. When a city, town, or village is not the place where the change of duty status happens, the location might be noted as:

  1. The nearest milepost and highway number, followed by the names of the closest city, town, hamlet, and state;
  2. The closest city, town, or village name, the highway number, and the name of the service plaza; or

  3. The names of the closest city, town, village, and state, followed by the highway numbers of the two crossing nearby roads.


Within 13 days of completion, you must provide the original record of your duty status to your motor carrier.


You must have the original record for the current day as well as copies of all the records from the previous seven days in your possession. While you are on duty, they must be accessible for examination.


For six months from the date of receipt, a motor carrier is required to preserve all supporting documentation and records of duty status.


100 Air-Mile Radius Exemption


You are not required to complete a record of duty status (driver’s log) if the following criteria are met:


  1. Your place of employment is within 100 air miles of your regular reporting location;

  2. You depart the office within 12 hours after arriving at your customary reporting location;

  3. A minimum of 10 hours of rest must follow each 12-hour shift;

  4. You do not drive more than 11 hours following 10 hours off duty; and

  5. Your motor carrier keeps your time logs for six months, which indicate the following:

  • The time you arrive for work each day;

  • The hour you are let off of duty each day;

  • The total number of hours you work each day;

  • The total number of hours worked during the last seven days (if you are used for the first time or intermittently).

  • Keep in mind that you are still subject to the 60-hour/7-day or 70-hour/8-day limits while employing the 100-air-mile radius exemption.

Short-Haul Provision (Non-CDL)


If the following conditions are satisfied, you may extend your workday twice in any span of 7 consecutive days and are not needed to keep a record of your duty status (logbook):


You are not required to hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate your vehicle; and


After each day, you return to and are released from your regular work reporting site, which is within a 150-air-mile radius of where you normally report for work.


Under this provision, you must:


- Comply with the 11-hour driving rule;


- Have at least 10 consecutive hours off duty separating each on-duty period;


- Comply with the 60-hour/7-day limit or 70-hour/8-day limit (you may use the 34-hour restart provision if applicable).


Under this provision, you must not drive:


- After 14 consecutive hours of duty time during 5 days of any period of 7 consecutive days; and

- After 16 consecutive hours of duty time during 2 days of any period of 7 consecutive days.


You are not required to maintain a record of your duty status (driver's log), but your motor carrier is required to do so. This record must show the times you report for duty and are released from it each day, the total number of hours you work each day, and, if you are used for the first time or intermittently, the total amount of time you worked over the previous seven days.


If you make use of this exemption, you are not permitted to utilize the short-haul (16-hour), sleeper-berth, or 100-air-mile radius exemptions.




The hours-of-service rules are designed to keep drowsy drivers off the road. These regulations are taken seriously by both the FMCSA and law enforcement in general. For breaking these rules, drivers and motor carriers face annual fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Maintaining a clean and accurate log book and operating within the law can help you operate lawfully, lower your risk of a fatigue-related accident, and prevent you from collecting penalties and fines.

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