It seems like every time we turn around, the FMCSA is announcing new Hours of Service regulations, CSA changes or safety initiatives. And it’s tough to keep up, especially for the owner/operators and small fleets that don’t have a full-time compliance manager to rely on.
Well, here it is: The nuts and bolts of HOS.
Hours of Service rule changes coming your way
There are two Hours of Service changes that will take effect this summer, and they’ll require a little more juggling on your part, so pay close attention:
Right now, if you take 34 or more consecutive hours Off-Duty, you can restart your 60/7 or 70/8 clock. Meaning, you have your full 60 or 70 hours of available drive time and don’t have to count the previous 6 or 7 days’ worth of accumulated hours in your tally.
On July 1, 2013, the 34-hour restart gets trickier.
From that point, you’ll only be able to use the 34-hour restart once a week. (So, you won’t be able to use the restart until 168 hours or more have passed since your last restart began.)
Also, your 34-hour restart won’t count unless it includes two 1:00 am – 5:00 am Off-Duty periods. That might prove a bit challenging and grumble inducing for some of you. How? This can make the reset for the week be as much as 52 hours or 34. This depends if you run out of hours on 70 and don’t have enough pick-up.
Mandatory rest breaks
Starting July 1, 2013, you’ll also need to factor in a mandatory 30-minute rest break into the equation when you’ve reached eight consecutive hours of On-Duty.
When that rule takes effect, you’ll only be able to drive if you’ve taken a minimum 30-minute rest period in the previous eight hours.
Haven’t done that?
Then, take a stroll, grab something tasty for lunch or chill out with Johnny Cash.
After 30 minutes, you’ll be cleared to fire up your tractor again.
Now this is important: The new mandatory 30-minute break does not extend your 14-hour driving window; rather, it counts against it. So, you’ll really only have 13-1/2 hours available to drive your limit of 11 hours.
Don’t forget, On-Duty time changes came last February
On February 27, 2012, the FMCSA updated its definition of On-Duty time.
Now you can sandwich up to two hours in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle as Off-Duty, as long as it’s wrapped around an 8-hour sleeper berth period. Meaning it can be two hours consecutively before or after your sleeper berth time, or it can be split—one hour before and one after. Once you’ve used those two Off-Duty hours in the passenger seat you must go to On-Duty.
Our Hours of Service Regulations Refresher
Last summer at XUE, FMCSA administrator, Annette Sandberg, told us that two of the top ten roadside inspection violations were for drivers who had exceeded their 14-hour driving window and 11-hour driving limit.
These kinds of violations can damage your CSA score, making you a less viable option for shippers, brokers and third party logistics companies—especially now that they’re being named in vicarious liability lawsuits.
So, be sure to comply with these three duty limits all the time, every time:
- 14 hour “driving window” limit
- 11 hour driving limit
- 60 hour/7 day and 70 hour/8 day duty limit
14 hour driving window
While the 14-hour driving window isn’t based on a 24-hour day, you might think of it as your “daily allotted hours;” many drivers do.
It means that, when you start doing any kind of work for your carrier (or yourself, if you’re an o/o), whether it’s paid or unpaid, behind the wheel or not, your 14 hour clock starts ticking. During that window, you may drive up to 11 hours.
When the clock winds down on that 14th hour, you can do other work, but you can’t drive.
For example, if you start your 14-hour clock running with a 6:00 am pre-trip inspection, you won’t be able to climb back behind the wheel after 8:00 pm—even if you’ve taken Off-Duty time and haven’t reached your maximum of 11 drive-time hours. Not until you can legally resume your next 14-hour window, that is.
A small caveat: If you spend eight consecutive hours in your sleeper berth or more, that time will not count toward your 14 hour work window.
11 hour driving limit
As I’ve just mentioned, you can only drive as many as 11 hours during your 14-hour driving window.
When you’ve hit your 11-hour limit, you must then take 10 consecutive hours Off-Duty before climbing back behind the wheel.
(Exception: If you’re hauling Division 1.1, 1.2 or 1.3 explosives, the On-Duty break time you spend watching your vehicle will count toward your 30-minute mandatory break, provided you’re not doing any other On-Duty work.)
60/7 and 70/8 hour duty limits
If your carrier doesn’t operate seven days a week, then you must follow the 60/7 rule; meaning, you can’t drive your rig after you’ve been On-Duty for 60 hours in the past seven consecutive days, including today. You can do other work-related activities—you just can’t get hit the road.
If your carrier does haul Sunday through Saturday, then you may run a 70/8 schedule. That means you can’t drive your truck if you’ve been On-Duty for 70 hours in the previous eight consecutive days, including today.
Keep in mind that both the 60/7 and 70/8 limits are rolling periods.
That means that today is Day One. So, if you’re on a 60/7 schedule, you can’t drive your rig if you’ve accumulated 60 On-Duty hours between today and the previous six days.
On-Duty time definition
If you’re working—whether your carrier is paying you or not—it’s On-Duty time.
That could mean time spent waiting to get loaded at a customer’s dock, pre and post trip inspections, shipment paperwork, and work training. Heck, even the time you spent submitting to blood alcohol testing counts as On-Duty.
Have a part time job on the side?
Any paid work time also goes against your On-Duty hours tally.
However, now, if your carrier releases you from responsibility for your rig and other work-related duties, you can log time spent resting in your parked vehicle as Off-Duty.
And, as I mentioned above, the FMCSA will also allow you to log two hours of Off-Duty time in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle, provided those hours immediately follow or precede eight consecutive hours in your sleeper berth.
Staying Hours of Service compliant
Delivering on shipper expectations is tough enough. Keeping customers happy, while remaining compliant amidst the constant evolution of trucking regulations can be an even greater challenge.
It’s one that’s worth taking on, however.
The fact is you have to stay Hours of Service compliant to remain competitive these days. A bad CSA score? Fewer customers will feel comfortable taking a risk with you. Run a squeaky clean operation, though, and you’ll become their go-to carrier.
So, know your HOS rules and be sure to dot your “I”s and cross your “T”s.