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Section 13 - Hours Of Service Regulations

Some Quick Notes About This Section

While you are not required to take a written exam over the Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations to obtain your CDL , the regulations are still very important to understand. Besides the obvious reason of knowing when you can legally drive or not, having a solid understanding of the regulations will have a positive impact on your paycheck. By being informed about the regulations, you can find little tricks and ways to maximize your legal driving and working hours. The more you understand these rules, the more miles you'll be able to drive which means more money in your pocket. Put in a little work now and it will literally pay off for the rest of your career.

We've included quite a bit of information here. Some of it we're going to test you on and some of it we won't. To find out what you should pay special attention to, and for extra tips and information, be sure to click on those purple question marks throughout the section.

The purpose of this section is to prepare you for the real world and to help you maximize your earnings. So brew yourself a pot of coffee and get comfortable. If you have the self discipline to study and make it through this entire section, you will be more knowledgeable than most other commercial drivers. That means more money in your pocket.

Be warned! Some of these rules and regulations are very confusing. But remember, the more you understand, the more earnings potential you'll have out on the road. Stick with it!

13.1 Introduction To Hours Of Service Regulations

As a truck or bus driver, you'll be required to record and abide by all working and driving limitations which were created by the Department of Transportation (DOT). The rules govern a commercial driver's working and resting hours and are referred to as Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations. First, we will explain what HOS regulations are and how they work. Then you'll be able to review some logbook examples and finally, we will teach you some tips and tricks to maximize your available driving hours and thus, your paycheck.

What Are Hours Of Service Regulations?

HOS regulations are rules issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which is a division within the Department of Transportation (DOT). The regulations limit the number of daily and weekly hours which can be spent driving and working. They also regulate the minimum amount of time drivers must spend resting between driving shifts. Drivers are required to keep an updated log showing all of their working and resting hours.

Why Do HOS Regulations Exist?

The purpose of HOS regulations is to reduce accidents caused by driver fatigue. Many drivers don't like being told when they can and can't drive, but as you can see in chart below, the risk of an accident is directly related to how many hours a driver has been behind the wheel. HOS regulations were designed so that drivers wouldn't push themselves too far and also so that carriers can't force drivers to drive beyond their limits.

Who Enforces HOS Regulations?

Law enforcement:

Generally, DOT officers are the ones who enforce HOS rules, although any police officer may inspect a driver's logbook. Individual states are responsible for maintaining weigh stations where drivers are pulled in for random vehicle and logbook inspections. Drivers may also be pulled over for random checks by police officers or DOT officials at any time and have their logbooks inspected. While it's not a frequent occurrence, chances are your logbook will be checked every now and then. Be ready for it at all times!

Carriers:

In addition to law enforcement and DOT officials, most carriers have their own company policies regarding logbooks. Not only do carriers want to ensure their drivers are being safe on the roadways, but carriers often receive audits from DOT officials and can be heavily fined if too many drivers have violations on their logs. A drivers logs are frequently reviewed by internal auditors for discrepancies or violations. A driver with too many violations might be warned, disciplined, or terminated (terminating a driver usually only occurs after several violations). The increased use of electronic logging devices (discussed later) has forced carriers to crack down on HOS violations even more.

Most of the time, we'll simply say HOS instead of Hours of Service.
When you are driving a commercial vehicle, police officers do not need a reason to stop you. Commercial vehicle operators can be pulled over at anytime for any reason. Be prepared for a random inspection anytime.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Review Questions - Click On The Picture To Begin...

When can your logbook be inspected?
  • At any weigh station your logbook can be checked for any reason
  • During a random traffic stop by any police officer
  • Your carrier can audit your logbook anytime
  • All of these answers are correct

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Who Enforces HOS Regulations?

Law enforcement:

Generally, DOT officers are the ones who enforce HOS rules, although any police officer may inspect a driver's logbook. Individual states are responsible for maintaining weigh stations where drivers are pulled in for random vehicle and logbook inspections. Drivers may also be pulled over for random checks by police officers or DOT officials at any time and have their logbooks inspected. While it's not a frequent occurrence, chances are your logbook will be checked every now and then. Be ready for it at all times!

Carriers:

In addition to law enforcement and DOT officials, most carriers have their own company policies regarding logbooks. Not only do carriers want to ensure their drivers are being safe on the roadways, but carriers often receive audits from DOT officials and can be heavily fined if too many drivers have violations on their logs. A drivers logs are frequently reviewed by internal auditors for discrepancies or violations. A driver with too many violations might be warned, disciplined, or terminated (terminating a driver usually only occurs after several violations). The increased use of electronic logging devices (discussed later) has forced carriers to crack down on HOS violations even more.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

Your logbook can be checked virtually anytime. Never press your luck. Make sure your logbook is legal and up to date all the time.

Next
HOS regulations were designed to do all of the following except:
  • To require drivers to keep an updated log showing all of their working and resting hours
  • To ensure drivers wouldn't push themselves too far
  • To regulate the maximum amount of time drivers can spend resting between driving shifts
  • So that carriers can't force drivers to drive beyond their limits

Quote From The CDL Manual:

What Are Hours Of Service Regulations?

HOS regulations are rules issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which is a division within the Department of Transportation (DOT). The regulations limit the number of daily and weekly hours which can be spent driving and working. They also regulate the minimum amount of time drivers must spend resting between driving shifts. Drivers are required to keep an updated log showing all of their working and resting hours.

Why Do HOS Regulations Exist?

The purpose of HOS regulations is to reduce accidents caused by driver fatigue. Many drivers don't like being told when they can and can't drive, but as you can see in Figure 13-1 below, the risk of an accident is directly related to how many hours a driver has been behind the wheel. HOS regulations were designed so that drivers wouldn't push themselves too far and also so that carriers can't force drivers to drive beyond their limits.

Figure 13-1

TruckingTruth's Advice:

The required resting periods are minimum requirements, not maximum requirements. The same can be said about working hours. Bottom line, if you're too tired to drive, don't drive!

Prev
Next
Who enforces HOS regulations?
  • Police Officers
  • DOT Officials
  • Carriers
  • All of these answers are correct

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Who Enforces HOS Regulations?

Law enforcement:

Generally, DOT officers are the ones who enforce HOS rules, although any police officer may inspect a driver's logbook. Individual states are responsible for maintaining weigh stations where drivers are pulled in for random vehicle and logbook inspections. Drivers may also be pulled over for random checks by police officers or DOT officials at any time and have their logbooks inspected. While it's not a frequent occurrence, chances are your logbook will be checked every now and then. Be ready for it at all times!

Carriers:

In addition to law enforcement and DOT officials, most carriers have their own company policies regarding logbooks. A drivers logs are frequently reviewed by internal auditors for discrepancies or violations. A driver with too many violations might be warned, disciplined, or terminated (terminating a driver usually only occurs after several violations). The increased use of electronic logging devices has forced carriers to crack down on HOS violations even more.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

You should always be prepared for a random inspection. Your logs must always be current. If you get pulled into a weigh station or get pulled over for a random inspection, which does happen, and your logbook is not current, you will be cited for a violation.

The carrier you work for will also have logbook auditors. Companies themselves are required to keep driver logs for a period of time and receive random audits from the DOT. If too many of their drivers have logbook violations, the company can be fined or otherwise penalized. They have an interest in passing those audits so if you cause too many problems for them, they will take action.

Prev
Next
What does DOT stand for?
  • Department of Timekeeping
  • Department of Transportation
  • Days of On-Duty Time
  • Diary of Time

Quote From The CDL Manual:

As a truck or bus driver, you'll be required to record and abide by all working and driving limitations which were created by the Department of Transportation (DOT). The rules govern a commercial driver's working and resting hours and are referred to as Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations. In this section we will guide you through the HOS regulations and teach you the best methods of properly recording your hours.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

Everyone in trucking refers to the Department of Transportation as "The DOT." If you don't know this, you'll sound like a rookie. You don't want that, do ya!?

Prev
Next
Which statement below is false?
  • Non-DOT law enforcement officers need probable cause to inspect your logbook
  • The increased use of electronic logging devices has forced carriers to crack down on HOS violations
  • Your logbook can be randomly checked anytime you go through a weigh station
  • Your logbook can be checked by your carrier at anytime

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Who Enforces HOS Regulations?

Law enforcement:

Generally, DOT officers are the ones who enforce HOS rules, although any police officer may inspect a driver's logbook. Individual states are responsible for maintaining weigh stations where drivers are pulled in for random vehicle and logbook inspections. Drivers may also be pulled over for random checks by police officers or DOT officials at any time and have their logbooks inspected. While it's not a frequent occurrence, chances are your logbook will be checked every now and then. Be ready for it at all times!

Carriers:

In addition to law enforcement and DOT officials, most carriers have their own company policies regarding logbooks. A drivers logs are frequently reviewed by internal auditors for discrepancies or violations. A driver with too many violations might be warned, disciplined, or terminated (terminating a driver usually only occurs after several violations). The increased use of electronic logging devices (discussed later) has forced carriers to crack down on HOS violations even more.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

Your logbook could be checked at anytime for any reason. Make sure it is always updated!

Prev
Next
What does HOS stand for?
  • Hometime Optimization System
  • Hours on Site
  • Hours of Service
  • Highway Organization System

Quote From The CDL Manual:

As a truck or bus driver, you'll be required to record and abide by all working and driving limitations which were created by the Department of Transportation (DOT). The rules govern a commercial driver's working and resting hours and are referred to as Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

During the rest of this program, we will be referencing HOS instead of saying Hours of Service every time. As an industry standard, HOS always stands for Hours of Service and the vast majority of people in the trucking industry are very familiar with the term HOS.

Prev
Next
Why Do HOS Regulations Exist?
  • To reduce accidents caused by driver fatigue
  • To ensure drivers are being paid at least minimum wage
  • To keep drivers from sitting too long between load assignments
  • All of these answers are true

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Why Do HOS Regulations Exist?

The purpose of HOS regulations is to reduce accidents caused by driver fatigue. Many drivers don't like being told when they can and can't drive, but as you can see in Figure 13-1 below, the risk of an accident is directly related to how many hours a driver has been behind the wheel. HOS regulations were designed so that drivers wouldn't push themselves too far and also so that carriers can't force drivers to drive beyond their limits.

Figure 13-1

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