We’ve all been there: “Just one more hour and I’ll take a break.” Whether on a family road trip or that long haul you signed up for, we’ve all felt the need to push ourselves beyond our limits while driving. That’s why there are rules on the books pertaining to hours of service and how many hours a driver can log.
So what are the hours of service regulations for truck drivers, and why are they important to you?
On the clock
The first thing to be aware of is how long you’ve been on duty. The maximum time a driver can be “on the clock” is 14 hours. Using a hypothetical example, let’s assume you started your day at 8 a.m. You cannot be on duty beyond 10 p.m. that evening. This includes driving, loading, unloading, stopping for a lunch break, etc. Your shift must end no later than 14 hours from the time it began.
Of those 14 hours, not all of them can be spent behind the wheel. The maximum you can drive is 11 hours in any given 14-hour shift.
As a driver, you may find yourself occasionally driving up to 70 hours over the course of an eight-day period. While this is the maximum allowed for driving, you may still be able to log on-duty hours (such as loading or unloading).
The hours for the oldest day fall off. So, if you reached your maximum hours and took 24 hours off, the hours from the first day would no longer count. Assuming you logged 8 hours on day one, you could log 8 hours driving again the next day.
But waiting an additional 10 hours might make more sense in this scenario. There is a “reset” clause and it applies regardless of how many hours you’ve logged. Let’s say you drive 11 hours every day for six days in a row. With only 4 hours remaining of your 70 hour allotment, taking the next 34 hours off resets your timer to zero. This “34 hour rule” applies whether you’ve logged 66 hours or 6 hours. There is a stipulation, however, that you’re only able to have 1 reset every 7 days.
Why are these rules in place?
Obviously, the answer to why is first and foremost “safety.” Regardless of whether you’re driving an 18-wheeler or a motorcycle, keeping yourself behind the wheel of any motor vehicle for an extended period of time is a recipe for disaster. These federal regulations are designed to keep not only the semi driver safe, but everyone else on the highway. When you consider the nature of the trucking industry and how long hauls can be physically exhausting, a little bit of regulatory oversight goes a long way to keeping everyone safe.
And when you think about the tonnage involved with a fully loaded big rig, the importance of safety becomes even more apparent. A lot is said about car drivers and the safety precautions they need to take. The average weight of a sedan is only 4,000 pounds. For comparison, your big rig is 20 times that — 80,000 pounds. Safety should be of the utmost priority.
Here at Roeder Cartage, we take driver safety seriously. Learn more about what steps we take by reading how we put drivers first with safety in mind.