Federal DOT Regulations: Recent Changes to Hours of Service

by | Jun 11, 2020 | 0 comments

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is an agency of the Department of Transportation (DOT). They regulate the number of hours truck drivers can spend driving per day. The agency also regulates the total number of hours truck drivers can drive in a given week. These so-called “hours of service” rules.

They are put in place for two reasons. One, to ensure that drivers are well-rested behind the wheel. Two, to reduce the risk of fatigue-related trucking accidents on U.S. roadways. Truck drivers are notorious for working long hours with little to no rest. This increases their risk of chronic fatigue and drug driving. Drivers who violate the FMCSA’s strict trucking hours of service regulations may be fined. They also run the risk of being placed on shut down until they have accumulated enough off-duty hours to be back in compliance.

Trucking Hours: Service Regulations

When it comes down to it, trucking hours of service regulations can be complicated and confusing. We have discussed the new rules with drivers, owner-operators and fleet managers. Through these discussions, we know that they are concerned about how these new regulations are going to affect the trucking industry.

We are here to say that the best way to remain compliant with federal hours of service regulations and avoid incurring harsh penalties is to use software designed specifically for owner-operators and fleet managers. Our trucking management software accurately tracks driving hours. It ensures compliance with trucking hours of service rules and takes the guesswork out of IFTA and IRP reporting and payments.

New federal DOT regulations are having a major impact on the hours of service (HOS) that truckers and long-distance bus drivers are able to work.

DOT Regulations & What They Mean for You

Rules for Drivers Carrying Goods Rules for Drivers Carrying Passengers
May only drive a total of 11 hours, and that only after 10 consecutive off-duty hours Can drive a total of 10 hours, and that only after eight consecutive off-duty hours.
Cannot drive after more than 14 consecutive hours on-duty (including time spent in non-driving tasks). May only spend 14 consecutive hours on-duty after 10 consecutive hours off-duty. May not drive after spending more than 15 hours on duty. Can only spend 15 consecutive hours on-duty after spending eight consecutive hours off-duty.
Must stop driving if more than eight hours have passed since last off-duty or sleeper berth break of at least 30 minutes. Certain exemptions exist for short-haul drivers. Passenger drivers who use a sleeper berth must spend at least eight hours within the berth prior to an eight hour shift. They may split this time up into two sessions, provided that one is at least two hours in length.
Driving time is limited by the 60/70 hour limit described to the right. A driver must take at least 34 consecutive off-duty hours before beginning a new 7/8-day duty period. 60/70-hour limit: driving time is limited to 60 hours within seven consecutive days or to 70 hours within eight consecutive days.

Needless to say, the new federal DOT regulations have caused quite a stir in the professional driving community. Some welcome the revised standards as a much-needed change, one that will heighten safety for both truckers and drivers of passenger vehicles. Others, however, say the revamped federal DOT regulations are an unwanted, unwelcome intrusion by Uncle Sam into private industry. Far from preventing accidents, these opponents claim that the new standards will only hurt those they are intended to help. Only time will tell which side is right.

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