Hours of Service Violations
As a truck driver, you are expected to follow extra regulations that do not apply to normal drivers. These regulations are designed to keep you as well as the other vehicles on the road safe. One of the regulations you will need to pay the closest attention to is hours of service.
You may have heard about hours of service violations and that they should be avoided. We will show you how. It’s best to learn about them now to avoid headaches later.
What are Hours of Service Violations?
Hours of service are enforced by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) designed to regulate the maximum number of hours that can be driven at a time in a commercial motor vehicle. They also regulate mandatory breaks and duty cycles.
This is designed to ensure safe working conditions for drivers. As such, hours of service violations can lead to various fines and penalties. Keeping a clean driver’s record is important for any driver, so you want to do your best to avoid these penalties.
Hours of Service Regulations
These regulations are enforced to keep truck drivers safe and other drivers safe. It is not designed to limit the amount you can earn. Being on the road for too long leads to sloppy driving and accidents.
Driving limits can help reduce driver fatigue, road hypnosis, and avoidable accidents. Take advantage of your HOS regulations to become a better and more safe driver.
Let’s go over the list of all the important hours of service regulations:
What are the Different Hours of Service Regulations?
Regulations are divided into two categories. These are property-carrying drivers like we have at ShipEX. The other is passenger-carrying drivers, such as bus drivers. As these are very different jobs, the regulations differ as well.
HOS Regulations for Property Carrying Drivers
According to HOS rules, property-carrying drivers can expect an 11-hour driving limit. This means they may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 hours of off-duty time. If you do not take the 10 hours off duty time, you are not allowed to continue with another 11 hours.
The 14-hour limit is a little different. A driver may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after being “on-duty” following 10 consecutive hours off-duty. This means that if you have spent hours loading and unloading instead of driving hours, you still need a 10-hour reset. Remember, this is to help you be more well-rested and safe on the road.
The 30-min driving break relates to consecutive hours of driving. You cannot drive for longer than 8 hours without taking at least a 30-minute break. A good time to take this break is when you stop for meals. Take that time to rest and regain your energy so that you can keep driving without HOS violations.
Your 60/70 Hour Limit covers a 7/8 consecutive day period. You cannot drive after 60/70 hours of on-duty time within a 7/8 day period. Once you reach that many hours on duty, you need to take a 34-hour break before you can start driving again. This break is a great time to grocery shop and go sightseeing so that you are prepared and refreshed when you are able to start driving again.
The sleeper berth provision relates to the hours of sleep you have. Drivers who use a sleeper berth must use it for at LEAST 10 hours. You are allowed to split this time if needed, but you cannot stay in the sleeper berth for less than 2 hours at a time.
This provision ensures that you are able to have a full sleep cycle and are refreshed to keep driving. If you split your sleeper berth time in two, it must still add up to 10 hours.
The adverse driving conditions regulations allow extensions to ensure your safety. You are allowed to extend your 11-hour driving window up to 2 hours if you have no other options to get safely away from adverse weather conditions. This should only be used as a last resort, as the extra hours can also cause unsafe driving.
HOS Regulations for Passenger Carrying Drivers
Passenger-carrying drivers have a 10-hour driving limit daily. This means that you can drive for a maximum of 10 hours after an 8-hour break. As you are carrying passengers, it is essential that you are well-rested and can drive safely.
The 15-hour limit relates to your on-duty time. You cannot drive after having been on duty for 15 consecutive hours after an 8-hour break. This includes the time that you are not actively driving.
Just like for property-carrying drivers, your 60/70 Hour Limit covers a 7/8 day window. You cannot drive after being on duty for 60/70 hours within a 7/8 day window. If you reach this limitation, you need to stop for a minimum of 34 hours and rest.
The sleeper berth provision relates to the hours of sleep you have. Drivers who use a sleeper berth must use it for at LEAST 8 hours. You are allowed to split this time if needed, but you cannot stay in the sleeper berth for less than 2 hours at a time.
If you split your sleeper berth time in two, it must still add up to 8 hours. Do not try to limit your sleep, you will not only have HOS violations, but you will also risk an avoidable accident.
The adverse driving conditions regulations are the same that property-carrying drivers have. You can extend your driving window up to 2 hours in order to avoid adverse weather conditions. Use this only as a last resort, and do your best to plan for and avoid adverse weather without extending your driving limits.
Be sure to keep these regulations in mind, especially if you are new to the trucking industry. HOS violations can make you less desirable for a hire. As a truck driver, it is your responsibility to monitor your driving limits.
What Happens if You Get an Hours of Service Violation?
The penalty for violating HOS rules depends on who stops you, as well as who is at fault. If you, the driver, are at fault, state and local law enforcement officials can assess fines. You may be placed on shutdown and forced to be off duty for the remainder of the time. This can reduce your earning potential as you are forced to sit instead of completing your delivery.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may administer additional fines to drivers or carriers, ranging from $1000-16000 (adjusted for inflation). This depends on the severity of the violation. These fines are not the worst of the penalties that you can earn, however.
A driver or carrier can face criminal penalties for extreme negligence, including federal fines, license suspension, and jail time. These civil penalties are only used when you have endangered lives. Falling asleep at the wheel can be lethal to you and to the other vehicles on the road. Law enforcement takes this incredibly seriously, and you should as well.
Other Negative Impacts
While these penalties are bad, some truck drivers decide to take the risk of being caught. They may believe that the risk of penalties is worth it to earn extra money for themselves or others. It is never worth it. Ignoring regulations leads to loads of negative health effects including musculoskeletal disorders, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleeping disorders, and more.
There is no load that is worth your life. You can avoid incurring career-ending injuries and health conditions by following these HOS regulations and looking after your health. Not only could you end your driving career, but you could also end your or another’s life in an accident. Use your rest periods and avoid a life-ending accident.
Who Discovers Hours of Service Violations?
Hopefully, the driver or carrier discovers issues before they become violations. Using an electronic logging device will help you manage your hours of service and report them when stopped. If you are not monitoring and recording your hours of service, you run the risk of HOS violations.
Local or State police can discover violations during a roadside inspection. These are unpredictable, and you need to always be prepared for them as the driver. You will be fine if you have taken the proper steps to follow the regulations and track your hours.
A DOT weight station can catch this during an audit. You need to use weigh stations regularly as a driver, so you always need to be prepared for this. Keep your record of duty status handy and up to date.
Local or State police during an accident investigation will also request your logs. These can prove either your innocence of a violation or your guilt. Remember, falsifying logs is a crime and will only increase the penalties you face. Be honest and keep accurate records.
How to Avoid Hours of Service Violations
The best way to avoid hours of service violations is to know and adhere to the regulations. Stay up to date on any changes and ensure that you are always within your hours. Being vigilant about trip planning can help you avoid needing to go over hours. Keep an eye on the weather and schedule your rest periods so that you are not caught off guard.
You are also responsible for keeping documented logs known as records of duty status (RODS). These logs need to be up-to-date and accurate. When you are inspected or audited by the DOT they will request your record of duty status. Even if you have not gone outside of your hours, you could still receive a violation if this is not up to date.
Some trucking companies influence drivers to break these regulations. These companies should be avoided at all costs. Your safety is not worth delivering that extra load. Make sure to work for a company that does not incentivize violation
At ShipEX, we value driver safety and adhere to these regulations. No load is worth your life. We never want our drivers to push through unsafe conditions.
This blog post is for informational purposes only. ShipEX makes no warranties about this information’s completeness, reliability, or accuracy. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk. ShipEX will not be liable for any losses and damages in connection therewith. Furthermore, nothing in this blog alters ShipEX Policies which are subject to change without notice.