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Hours of Service Rules

ELDs exist to enforce the DOT’s Hours of Service regulations. These rules dictate how much a driver can work before being required to take some mandatory time off. The HOS rules can be confusing, so here’s a quick refresher course:

Statuses

A driver’s HOS log consists of time spent in 4 basic statuses:

  • Off Duty – The driver is not working.
  • Sleeper Berth – The driver is resting in the truck’s sleeper area.
  • Driving – The driver is actually driving the vehicle.
  • On Duty – The driver is doing work other than driving, such as fueling, inspection, unloading freight, etc.

 

The HOS Rules

11-hour driving rule – A driver may drive up to 11 hours total before he is required to take a 10-hour break. The 11-hour clock only ticks while the truck is actually being driven.

14-hour on duty shift rule – As soon as a driver changes his status to On Duty or Driving to start his day, a 14-hour clock starts ticking. This clock DOES NOT STOP ticking, even if the driver switches to Off Duty or Sleeper Berth. Once the 14 hours is up, the driver must take a 10-hour break before driving any more.

70-hour in 8 days rule (or 60 in 7) – Total time spent Driving and On Duty cannot exceed 70 hours in any 8-day period. So add up the time spent Driving and On Duty today, plus the prior 7 days. That total cannot be over 70 hours. A driver may “gain back” time at midnight when the oldest day in his 8-day window falls out of the time range. To completely reset the 70-hour clock requires a 34-hour restart (see below). There is also a variation of this rule that works the same way, but limits work time to 60 hours in 7 days. Fleets can decide which of these two variations they want to use.

8-hour, 30-minute break rule – When the driver comes off a break and changes to On Duty or Driving, an 8-hour clock starts ticking. Before the 8 hours is up, the driver must take at least a 30-minute rest break in Off Duty or Sleeper status. After the 30-minute break, the driver has at most another 8 hours to work before he is required to take another 30-minute break.

10-hour break – If time on the 11-hour or 14-hour clock has expired, the driver must take at least 10 consecutive hours in Off Duty and/or Sleeper Berth status to reset those clocks.

34-hour restart – If a driver is running low on time on his 70-hour in 8 days clock (or 60-hour in 7 days), he can complete a 34-hour restart to reset the 70-hour clock. A restart must be 34 consecutive hours of Off Duty and/or Sleeper Berth time. (Note: there used to be some additional rules placed on the 34-hour restart. These old rules dictated that it could only be used once every 7 days and that it had to include two mornings from 1am-5am. These rules were suspended in 2014 and are no longer in effect)

 

Special Cases and Exceptions

Personal Conveyance – When the driver is using the vehicle on his own time for personal transportation. This time does NOT count against a driver’s log time; it is counted as Off Duty time. But as of the mandate, personal driving must be visible on the ELD device for law enforcement. Personal Conveyance can only be used in certain circumstances:

  • The driver is truly on personal time, relieved of all work-related duties and responsibilities.
  • The vehicle must be “unladen”, meaning not pulling a loaded trailer (some fleets require bobtailing, but this is not necessarily a regulation).
  • The driver cannot be performing work related activities, such as fueling, taking the vehicle in for maintenance, bobtailing toward a load for pick up, etc.

 

Yard Moves – The ELD Mandate has introduced a new special status called “Yard Move”. The exact rules for using this status are not yet completely clear, but the idea is that driving done in a limited access lot or yard can be performed in On Duty status (rather than Driving status). The goal here is to allow drivers to move their trucks within a large facility, without counting that as real road-driving time. It may apply to moving within truck stop parking lots as well, but this is not yet clear.

 

Short Haul 100 / 150 Air Mile Excemption – Short haul drivers that consistently operate within a 100 or 150 air-mile radius of their central work location may be exempt from keeping Hours of Service logs at all. They can instead simply keep a time card used to report their daily hours. There is a long list of requirements to qualify for these two possible exemptions, so it is best to read the FMCSA regulation itself thoroughly before deciding if your drivers qualify.

 

8/2 Sleeper Split – We’ll say it up front: the 8/2 split rule is a complicated mess. It confuses people more than any other rule. It’s so complicated and so rarely gives any real advantage to the driver, that some fleets do not even allow it. But it is legal, and can occasionally be helpful in certain situations. So let’s dive in…

Normally 10 consecutive hours of Off Duty/Sleeper time is required to reset the 11 and 14-hour clocks. However, these 10 hours can sometimes be split up into two segments. This is called an 8/2 Split or Sleeper Split.

If the driver works part of his day, but has some time left over on his 11 and 14-hour clocks, he can stop early and take at least 8 straight hours in the sleeper berth. During these 8 hours his 14-hour clock does not keep ticking (and obviously neither does his 11-hour drive time clock). After 8 full hours, the driver can get up and drive for any time he had remaining on his 11 and 14 from before his 8-hour rest. Once that leftover time is done, he must take at least a 2-hour break.

Now here is where things get complicated… it’s not quite as simple as that last paragraph makes it sound. Imagine the driver started his day with a full 11 hours of drive time, and drove for 2 hours. Then took 8 hours in Sleeper Berth. He gets up and still has 9 hours of his 11-hour clock left over to use! Great, so he drives for those 9 hours, and now he has to stop and take a 2-hour break. After the 2-hour break, does he basically have a complete 10-hour break? Can he get up and drive another full 11 hours? NO WAY! That would be 20 hours of driving with only 2 hours of rest in the middle, which the DOT would flag as a huge violation. Instead, after every partial rest break (8 hours or 2 hours), the driver must count the driving time from before that rest against his current clock. So let’s go back to our example…

The driver starts his day with a full 11 hours. He drives for 2 hours, then takes 8 hours in Sleeper Berth. He wakes up… he’s just had a partial rest, so he has to look at the time he used up before that rest. He used up 2 hours already, leaving him 9 hours to drive. Just like before. So he drives those 9 hours, and now he needs to stop and take a 2-hour break. He wakes up after 2 hours, BUT HERE’S THE IMPORTANT PART. He’s again had a partial rest (2 hours), so he has to look at the driving time he already used before it. Just before the 2-hour rest, he drove for 9 hours. So that means he can only use the time left over after burning 9 hours. Meaning, he can drive for only 2 more hours before he hits an 11 hour total and has to stop again. At that point he can take a full 10-hour break, or he can take another 8-hour break to begin another split. But the same rule always applies. After a partial rest (8 or 2) you can only drive the time LEFT OVER on your 11-hour clock after subtracting out the driving time done before that partial rest.

Note that we used the 11-hour drive time rule for this example, but 14-hour rule works the same way. It’s also important to know is that it doesn’t matter whether the 2-hour segment or the 8-hour segment comes first. But, while the 8-hour segment does not count against the 14-hour clock, the 2-hour segment DOES. And, while the 8-hour segment must be all Sleeper Berth, the 2-hour segment can be Sleeper or Off Duty or any combination of those two.

Complicated enough? The easy answer is to just do full 10-hour breaks. But once you figure out the 8/2 Split rules, they do kind of make sense. They are just rarely useful, and often cause confusion and violations.

For another explanation (with pictures), check out this very good description of the rule by the folks at RapidLog.com

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