Hours of service rules exist to improve highway and road safety for truck drivers. The FMCSA , or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, sets certain rules and regulations that all drivers operating a commercial motor vehicle must adhere to. The hours-of-service rules permit truck drivers to drive a maximum of 11 hours after a minimum of 10 consecutive hours off duty. There are some exceptions to this rule under certain qualifying conditions.
Truck drivers mainly operating in a small service area without long distances are exempt from keeping a logbook of hours of service. Other exceptions include adverse weather conditions, agricultural vehicles, emergency relief, oilfield operations, and federal vehicles. To qualify for each of these exemptions, you must meet certain criteria.
Let’s dive into the hours-of-service exceptions for truck drivers.
Short-haul truck drivers are subject to different rules and regulations than long-haul drivers. There are specific stipulations to meet the requirements for short-haul hours-of-service exceptions. Here are the exceptions for short distances.
For short hauls, truck drivers may drive up to 16 hours once in a 7-day period or after a 34-hour restart. To meet the requirements for this exception, the driver must return to the work reporting location after the 16 hours and for the last five duty tours. They must release the driver after 16 consecutive hours on duty.
This exception does not apply if the driver is eligible for the 150 air-mile radius exception. The short-haul exception (16 hours) is described in the FMCSA regulation §395.1(o).
The 100 air-mile radius exception does not require a logbook , so long as you meet the conditions for the exception. To qualify for the 100 air-mile radius exception described in FMCSA regulation §395.1(e)(1), drivers must meet the following requirements:
The 150 air-mile radius is another hours-of-service exception that does not require a logbook. The conditions for the 150 air-mile exemption differ from the 100 air-mile radii. With the 150 air-mile exemption, drivers may work two 16-hour periods during a 7-day period or after a 34-hour restart. Here are the conditions described by FMCSA regulation §395.1(e)(2) that must be met to qualify for this hours-of-service exception:
There are specific hours-of-service exemptions for agricultural and farm vehicles. Many of them are exempt from all hours-of-service regulations, but drivers must meet the conditions described in the FMCSA regulations.
Agricultural operations are exempt from the hours-of-service regulations for truck drivers. They need to meet all conditions outlined in FMCSA regulations §395.1(k), §395.2 to qualify. Here are the conditions truck drivers need to meet to be exempt:
Agricultural operations using a farm vehicle with a GVW/GVWR greater than 26,001 lbs are exempt from hours-of-service regulations under proper conditions. The driver and vehicle must meet certain requirements to qualify for this exception. Here are the requirements from the FMCSA regulations §390.5, §390.39(a)(3):
Drivers operating a farm vehicle for agricultural purposes are exempt from hours-of-service regulations. The GVW/GVWR of the vehicle must be between 10,000 and 26,000 lbs to qualify for this exception. This lighter class of agricultural operations does not have any limits on traveling distances. Here are the other conditions you must meet under FMCSA regulations §390.5, §390.39(a)(3):
School bus drivers qualify for certain exceptions to the hours-of-service rules if they meet certain conditions. There are both government and contractor-operated school buses, and each has its own set of conditions for exemption.
Government-operated school bus drivers fall under the FMCSA regulation §390.3(f)(2) for local government-operated vehicles. This means government-operated school buses are also exempt from all hours-of-service rules.
Contractor-operated school buses are exempt from all hours-of-service rules under the FMCSA regulation §390.3(f)(1). The school bus driver must transport students to and from school or school-authorized events to qualify.
Vehicles owned and operated by the government have certain exemptions to the hours-of-service regulations. The exemptions depend on what tier of government operates the vehicle.
All vehicles operated by the federal government are exempt from all hours-of-service regulations under the FMCSA regulation §390.3(f)(2).
The FMCSA regulation §390.3(f)(2) offers an exemption to qualifying state government-operated vehicles. Qualifying vehicles are exempt from all hours-of-service rules.
Local government-operated vehicles are exempt from all hours-of-service regulations under FMCSA 390.3(f)(2).
Drivers working with oilfield operations qualify for hours-of-service exceptions. There are two oilfield operations exemptions described in FMCSA regulations §395.1(d)(1) and §395.1(d)(2)
This exception allows all commercial motor vehicles used exclusively in the transport of oilfield equipment for the exception. Vehicles servicing field operations and the oil industry also qualify for exceptions to the hours-of-services rules. The drivers qualify for a restart of the 70 hours per 8-day rule after a full 24 hours off duty. One condition of this exemption requires drivers to keep accurate time records for inspection.
This regulation removes waiting time from total driving time if all conditions are met. To qualify, the specially constructed vehicle must be operated by a specially trained driver for the specific purpose of servicing gas or oil wells. Waiting time must also be recorded separately on the log.
Despite proper planning and organization, there are circumstances that may arise. If this results in added driving time for commercial motor vehicle operators, there are some exceptions to the standard hours-of-service rules.
The FMCSA regulation §395.1(b)(2) makes all drivers operating vehicles during emergency driving conditions exempt from all hours-of-service regulations. The exemption applies so long as the run could have been completed if there wasn’t an emergency.
Drivers operating commercial vehicles for emergency relief purposes are exempt from all hours-of-service regulations. The FMCSA regulation §390.23 qualifies all emergency relief vehicles for exemption during a declared national, regional , state, or local emergency.
Despite all planning and coordination, adverse weather conditions can impact the working hours of truck drivers. When this happens, the driver may qualify for an additional 2 hours of working time. To qualify for FMCSA regulation §395.1(b)(1), §395.2, drivers must meet the following requirements:
The FMCSA has anticipated driver questions regarding use of the exemption:
Question: If a driver invokes the exception for adverse driving conditions, does a supervisor need to sign the driver’s record of duty status when he/she arrives at the destination?
Question: May a driver use the adverse driving conditions exception if he/she has accumulated driving time and on-duty (not driving) time, that would put the driver over 15 hours or over 70 hours in 8 consecutive days?
No. The adverse driving conditions exception applies only to the 10-hour rule.
Question: Are there allowances made in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) for delays caused by loading and unloading?
No. Although the regulations do make some allowances for unforeseen contingencies such as in §395.1(b), adverse driving conditions, and §395.1(b)(2), emergency conditions, loading and unloading delays are not covered by these sections.
Question: How may a driver utilize the adverse driving conditions exception or the emergency conditions exception as found in §395.1(b), to preclude an hours of service violation?
An absolute prerequisite for any such claim must be that the trip involved is one which could normally and reasonably have been completed without a violation and that the unforeseen event occurred after the driver began the trip.
Drivers who are dispatched after the motor carrier has been notified or should have known of adverse driving conditions are not eligible for the two hours additional driving time provided for under §395.1(b), adverse driving conditions. The term “in any emergency” shall not be construed as encompassing such situations as a driver’s desire to get home, shippers’ demands, market declines, shortage of drivers, or mechanical failures.
The FMCSA regulation §390.3(f)(7) exempts drivers transporting propane and heating fuel from all hours-of-service rules during an emergency.
Drivers operating vehicles used for non-government operated fire and rescue emergencies qualify for certain exemptions under the FMCSA regulation §395.1(l). Drivers are eligible for 24-hour consecutive off-duty restarts the 60-hour/7 day or 70-hour/8 day limit.
Tow trucks responding to emergency requests are exempt from all hours of service under the FMCSA regulation §390.3(f)(2). This exception applies primarily to tow truck drivers responding to government requests for wrecked or disabled vehicles.
The FMCSA regulation §395.1(p) dictates specific hours of service for drivers transporting property or people for movie and television production. Drivers may operate a vehicle for up to 10 hours of driving time with a 15-hour extendable driving window after 8 consecutive hours off duty. Drivers and vehicles must meet the following conditions to qualify for the exception:
Transporting construction materials and equipment may qualify for hours-of-service exceptions if all conditions are met. Drivers meeting the conditions may drive up to 60 hours in 7 days or 70 hours in 8 days resetting with 24 hours off duty. The FMCSA regulation §395.1(m) requires drivers to meet the following conditions to qualify for exemption:
There are certain hours-of-service exceptions in individual states. Here are the two state-specific exemptions for truck drivers:
Drivers operating a commercial motor vehicle in Alaska may work up to 15 hours of driving time or 20 hours of duty time. Truck drivers can work no more than 70 hours in 7 days or 80 hours in 8 days. All this is declared in the FMCSA regulation §395.1(h).
Railroad signal employees qualify for an exception from all hours-of-service rules if all conditions of the FMCSA regulation §395.1(r) are met.
Certain exemptions from the hours-of-service rules apply for retail and sales transportation. The main exceptions apply to driving salespersons and retail store deliveries.
Drivers delivering for retail stores qualify for an exception from all hours-of-service rules during the holiday season (December 10-25). The driver must stay within a 100 air-mile radius of their normal work reporting location. The vehicle must be transporting local deliveries from retail stores and/or catalog businesses to the ultimate customer. All conditions of the FMCSA regulation §395.1(f) must be met to qualify.
A driver who is also a salesperson may drive up to 60 hours in a 7-day period or 70 hours in an 8-day period if they meet all other conditions for the exemption. Under the FMCSA regulation §395.1(c), §395.2, drivers qualify for a modified 100 air-mile radius logbook provision as well. Here are the requirements for this regulation:
Drivers transporting personal property occasionally qualify for an exception from all hours-of-service rules under FMCSA regulation §390.3(f)(3). To qualify, the transportation must be unrelated to any commercial activity.
Utility services vehicles are exempt from all hours-of-service rules under qualifying conditions. The conditions of FMCSA regulation §395.1(n) are:
A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:
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.
The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.
Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.
A commercial motor vehicle is any vehicle used in commerce to transport passengers or property with either:
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
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?
GVWR is the maximum operating weight of a vehicle as specified by the manufacturer, minus any trailers.
Operating While Intoxicated