Truck Driving Laws: Driving Hours Guidelines
There are many laws that regulate the truck driving hours allowed in the Commercial Truck Driving industry. These laws are referred to as HOS (hours of service) regulations. The 11-hour rule, the 30-minute rule, and the 70-hour rule, among others, outline the allowed schedule of a truck driver.
The driving window, which is a term that you will hear below, is the maximum number of how many hours a truck driver can drive in before they must take a certain break or rest period. The driving window is currently 14 hours, after which the driver must take a required 10-hour off-duty rest break. Off-duty rest breaks are times when a driver is relieved of all the duties and responsibilities of their job.
The maximum driving hours for truck drivers regulate when drivers can work, how they take their brakes and their schedule of working within a given time period. Every truck driver is required to follow all of these regulations and they are strictly enforced.
The 11-hour rule is probably the most simple rule for how many hours a truck driver can drive. It essentially says that truck drivers can’t drive longer than 11 consecutive hours. Once that 11-hour mark has been hit, they must take 10 hours off-duty or a sleeper break, after which the timer resets and another 11 consecutive hours is allotted.
This rule is quite similar to the 11-hour rule and is also seen as a sort of “daily limit” for how many hours a truck driver can drive. Where the 11-hour rule applies to consecutive on-duty hours, the 14-hour rule is just set in a given window. The on-duty hours that they work are not just limited to driving the vehicle. They are other aspects of the job, such as inspecting, unloading, and servicing the cargo and vehicle.
No matter if a driver had worked consecutive hours or not, after 14 hours on the job, a driver is required to take one 10-hour break before they are permitted to drive again. Even if the driver spent some time to have a meal or rest, the truck driving hours allowed remain capped at 14.
Split Sleeper Berth
The laws of how many hours a truck driver can drive are generally pretty strict. However, with the Split Sleeper Berth provision, they’re given a bit of wiggle room and are able to extend their usual on-duty period of 14 hours. This provision gives a driver the opportunity to split off-duty breaks in two, which gives the driver a bit more freedom.
The shifts are interchangeable. One has to be somewhere between 2 and 8 hours and, the other between 8 and 10. After both shifts have been taken, either in the sleeper berth or outside the vehicle, the 14-hour driving window mentioned above before is reset. The new driving window begins at the end of the first split shift.
30-Minute/Rest Break Rule
The 30-minute rule is common in all work environments. After 8 hours of consecutive on-duty work, the driver is required to take a 30-minute break before continuing on with their work. The driver can even take their break in the sleeper berths. After a driver has taken their allotted 30-minute break, they are permitted to finish those last three hours before their 11-hour consecutive slot is up.
The 60/70-hour rule states that the truck driving hours allowed for 7 days (which don’t necessarily have to be from Sunday to Saturday) must not exceed 60 hours. For 8 days, the truck drivers are limited to 70 hours. The 60/70-hour rule varies from company to company. This regulation is put in place to ensure that a truck driver doesn’t work non-stop every day.
If a truck driver takes 34 consecutive hours off-duty, whether in the sleeper berth or elsewhere, their 60/70 limit of truck driving hours allowed will reset. During these 34 hours, truck drivers are allowed to work other aspects of the job, like vehicle maintenance or inspecting cargo, but are not allowed to drive their truck.
The commercial truck driving industry is run by hardworking drivers and companies who agree to all these rules and regulations. Although the laws may seem a bit excessive and particular, they are put in place to ensure the safety of both the truck drivers and others on the road. The job of a commercial truck driver requires much attention to detail, skill, and strict rules. However, the opportunity to work a high-paying job that allows you to explore the country and work with a flexible schedule is too good to pass up.