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HOS Rules

Hours of service encompass the duration during which drivers are allowed to be on duty, with a primary focus on prioritizing driver safety. This is achieved by establishing limitations on drive time and enforcing specific rest periods to ensure sustained alertness. In the vast majority of cases, both trucking carriers and drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are required to adhere to the hours-of-service regulations outlined in 49 CFR 395.
The federal regulations on hours of service constitute a comprehensive framework of safety-related provisions, specifying:

The limit for driving within an 11-hour period

The 11-hour regulation stipulates that, within a 14-hour timeframe, a driver transporting property can drive a maximum of 11 hours following a minimum of 10 consecutive hours off duty. For drivers carrying passengers, the allowance is up to 10 hours of driving after a mandatory eight consecutive hours off duty.

The regulation involving a 14-hour timeframe

The 14-hour rule constitutes a federal safety regulation embedded in the hours-of-service (HOS) framework, targeting commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators. This piece explores the particulars of this regulation, shedding light on why it is often referred to as the "driving window."

Grasping the concept of the 14-hour reset regulation

The 14-hour rule functions as the designated "driving window" for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers engaged in property transportation. Within this timeframe, a property-carrying CMV driver is granted 14 consecutive hours for each work shift, allowing a maximum driving time of up to 11 hours.
Initiating with any work-related task, such as a pre-trip inspection of the truck and/or trailer at the onset of the work shift, the 14-consecutive hour driving window commences. Upon reaching the culmination of this 14-hour period, the driver is precluded from driving until they have been off duty for a minimum of 10 consecutive hours.

What does the 14-hour rule aim to achieve?

This rule is designed to mitigate the risk of drivers operating vehicles while potentially fatigued after an extended day. Prolonged wakefulness and work lead to reduced alertness, a phenomenon known as "acute" fatigue, and the rule aims to address this safety concern.

Is it possible to interrupt the 14-hour driving window?

Generally, the 14-consecutive hour driving window remains uninterrupted. Referred to as a driver's "running clock," this timeframe persists even when the driver takes off-duty breaks for meals or coffee during the work shift.
It's crucial to highlight that if a driver is operating a truck with a sleeper berth, rest periods taken in the sleeper berth during a work shift have the potential to pause the 14-consecutive hour driving window.

Could non-driving tasks be performed at the conclusion of the 14-hour driving window?

Certainly, at the conclusion of the 14-consecutive hour driving window, a driver is allowed to engage in non-driving tasks. This may include staying on duty to complete paperwork, conduct a post-trip vehicle inspection, and similar activities. However, driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in commerce is specifically prohibited once the 14-consecutive hour driving window concludes.

The regulation mandating a 30-minute break

As per the 30-minute break rule, if eight hours have elapsed since the last off-duty period of 30 consecutive minutes, drivers are not allowed to record driving time. While drivers can engage in non-driving activities after eight hours without a break, driving is prohibited until the required break is taken.

Hour Limit: 60/70

Drivers transporting property are restricted from driving once they have been on duty for 60/70 hours within 7/8 consecutive days. The driver has the option to reset the 7/8 day period by taking a continuous 34 hours off duty.
Conversely, drivers transporting passengers are also not allowed to drive after accumulating 60/70 hours on duty within 7/8 consecutive days.

The regulation concerning the sleeper berth provision

For drivers transporting property, the required 10-hour off-duty period can be split, provided one off-duty segment is a minimum of two hours, and the other involves at least seven consecutive hours spent in the sleeper berth. The total duration of sleeper berth pairings must be at least 10 hours, and when combined, neither segment counts against the maximum 14-hour window.
On the other hand, drivers transporting passengers and utilizing sleeper berths are obliged to take a minimum of eight hours in the sleeper berth, with the flexibility to split this time into two periods as long as neither is less than two hours. All sleeper berth pairings must accumulate to a minimum of 10 hours.

Challenging Driving Conditions

Drivers transporting property have the option to prolong the 11-hour maximum driving limit and the 14-hour window by up to two hours when facing adverse driving conditions.
In the case of encountering adverse conditions, drivers transporting passengers can extend the 10-hour maximum driving time and the 15-hour on-duty limit by up to two hours.
The exception for short-hauls within a 16-hour timeframe.
The exception known as the 16-hour short-haul provision permits eligible drivers to prolong the 14-hour driving window to 16 hours once every seven consecutive days.
To qualify for this provision, a driver involved in the transportation of property must meet the following conditions:
Drivers utilizing the 16-hour short-haul exception are not eligible to use the non-CDL 150 air-mile exemption.

Fines or consequences

Compliance with hours-of-service regulations necessitates meticulous record-keeping. Failure to do so may lead to significant penalties, ranging from a 10 to 34-hour shutdown to fines ranging from $1,000 to $16,000, depending on the severity. Violations categorized as "egregious," such as those involving hazardous materials, can incur fines exceeding $75,000.