When it comes to commercial truck driving, safety is key. The purpose of the Hours of Service regulations are to keep everyone on the road safe and compliant. Chances are, you, or someone you know, has experienced fatigue while behind the wheel. Fatigue can lead to bad decisions and, potentially, serious, if not deadly, crashes.
The federal regulations governing interstate commerce cover two areas.
- Hours of Service (HOS)
These are the number of hours drivers are allowed to drive or work in a defined time frame. These hours must be accounted for.
- Driver’s Daily Log
Some veteran drivers still call these “grid logs.”
The regulations that are designed to protect drivers come from both federal and state agencies. The federal regulations are issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Keep in mind that many states also have HOS requirements that may go above and beyond the FMCSA regulations. This can be confusing at times because the federal regulations may be different from the state requirements. It is up to drivers and motor carriers to keep current on all the regulations that apply to you, including HOS for your specific operation.
The federal regulations for HOS apply to you if your vehicle, or a combination of vehicles, is rated at 10,0001 lbs or more. You also are under HOS regulations if you transport hazardous material in quantities large enough to require placards. The hazardous material regulation is in effect no matter what the vehicle you’re driving weighs.
The regulations about on-duty and off-duty time are very specific . The regulations allow for only so much time for drivers to drive. Too much time on-duty can result in fatigue, which is why drivers and motor carriers must track all of their on-duty time. The regulations define on-duty time as “all time a driver begins work or is required to be in readiness to work until the time the driver is relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work.” This includes the time you are:
- Waiting to be dispatched
- Inspecting, servicing or conditioning your commercial motor vehicle (CMV)
- Driving (time spent at the controls of a CMV in operation)
- Being in a CMV other than time spent resting or in a parked vehicle
- Attending to a vehicle that contains 1.1, 1.2 or 1.3 explosive material
- Being in or on a CMV other than time spent in the sleeper berth
- Being in a CMV other than up to 2 hours riding in the passenger seat
- Moving on a highway immediately before or after a sleeper berth period at least 8 consecutive hours
- Loading or unloading your CMV
- Repairing, obtaining assistance, or attending to a disabled CMV
- Complying with drug and/or alcohol requirements
- Performing any other work for your carrier or any other compensated work for any other carrier.
Making sure tired drivers stay off the road keeps everyone safe. Safety and compliance are the keys to staying violation-free. The best thing you can do is to know the HOS rules and stay in compliance, and, most importantly, stay safe. For more information about the HOS regulations, visit the FMCSA Hours-of-Service Rules.
Encompass represents top trucking insurance carriers across the county. To learn more about the issues that concern commercial truck carriers today, trucking insurance coverage and risk management, contact us.