Commercial Vehicle Regulations - Driver Logs & Hours
Driving is dangerous enough without the risk of overtired truckers on the road. Truck drivers’ hours on the road and how they must log those hours fall under federal law. Sometimes pressure from their employers to put profit ahead of safety makes some truckers break those rules.
Truckers’ hours of service (HOS) are held to the 11-hour driving limit and the 14-hour window limit. The following is from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website:
14-Hour Driving Window
This window is often thought of as a “daily” limit even though it’s not based on a 24-hour period. Truckers are allowed 14 consecutive hours during which they can drive up to 11 hours if they’ve been off duty for 10 or more hours in a row. The 14-hour driving window begins when they start any kind of work.
Drive time is limited to the 14-hour period even if they take some off-duty time, such as a lunch break or a nap, during those 14 hours.
11-Hour Driving Limit
During the 14-hour period, truckers are only allowed to drive a truck for up to 11 total hours. However, driving is not allowed if they’ve driven for more than 8 hours since the end of their last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes. Once they’ve driven a total of 11 hours, they’ve reached the driving limit and must be off duty for another 10 hours in a row before driving again.
On top of the 14-hour window and 11-hour driving limits, truckers must follow the 60/70-hour limit. This is based on either a 7- or 8-day period, as specified by the employer for the start of a 24-hour period. Again, from the FMCSA website:
This limit is sometimes thought of as a “weekly” limit. However, this limit is not based on a “set” week, such as Sunday through Saturday. The limit is based on a “rolling” or “floating” 7-day or 8-day period. The oldest day's hours drop off at the end of each day when they figure out the total on-duty time for the past 7 or 8 days.
For example, if they use a 70-hour/8-day schedule, the current day would be the newest day of the 8-day period and the hours they worked nine days ago would drop out of the total.
Here is how the 60-hour limit works:
If the company doesn’t run trucks every day of the week, truckers aren’t allowed to drive after they've been on duty 60 hours during any consecutive 7 days. Once they reach the 60-hour limit, they can’t drive again until they’ve dropped below 60 hours for the 7-consecutive-day period. They may do other work, but they cannot drive until they’re off duty enough days to get below the limit. Any other hours they work, whether they are for a motor carrier or someone else, must be added to the total.
The same calculation applies for carriers running trucks every day of the week, with 70 hours and 8 days swapped out for 60 hours and 7 days. Note that, as of December 16, 2014, the rule that there must be a 34-hour off-duty period in order for drivers to restart their 60- or 70-hour clock calculations has been suspended.
Every trucker must keep a daily log called a “record of duty status.” Drivers must make all of their own entries and must fill out an original log and one copy of the log. While there are some exceptions, the basic rule is that a driver's log must cover all 24 hours of every day including days off. Authorized government inspectors have the right to inspect a driver's logs at any time to make sure there aren’t any violations of hours-of-service rules.
One main exception to the log rule is the 100 Air-Mile Radius exception. According to the FMCSA, this exception applies for any day in which drivers:
- Drive within a 100 air-mile radius of their normal work reporting location,
- Return to their work reporting location and are released within 12 consecutive hours, and
- Follow all other basic hours-of-service rules including the 10-hour off-duty and 11-hour driving rules.
This exception is optional, meaning that drivers and their employers may agree to use a log regardless of the 100 air-mile radius so that drivers don’t have to be released from work within 12 hours that day.