It’s extremely tempting to get trips done in one spurt instead of breaking it up. However, in order to protect yourself and those around you, there are rules in place to limit your road time. Part of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), is largely involved with regulating the amount of hours a driver can be on the road. As with most federal regulations, these can be a bit complicated. Let us break them down a bit and get you up to speed. 

General Hours Of Service Regulations

As you might expect, passenger vehicles come with their own set of rules and regulations; however, let’s focus more on the FMCSA’s property transporting regulations.

  • Each period of work must begin with at least 10 hours off-duty.
  • Drivers may not work more than 60 hours on-duty over seven consecutive days, or 70 hours over eight days. They must also maintain a driver’s log for seven and eight days after, respectively. 
  • Drivers can be on-duty for up to 14 hours after 10 hours off-duty. The duty period cannot be extended with off-duty time for breaks, meals, fuel stops, etc. 
  • Drivers must take a mandatory 30-minute break by their eighth hour on-duty.

At the end of the day, these regulations are in place to benefit the drivers.  These time “restraints” are healthy and important to drivers in the long run. You need to get enough rest and not overwork yourself, especially when your job puts you in potentially dangerous situations.

Adverse Driving Conditions Exception

Sometimes, driving conditions aren’t favorable for the aforementioned time constraints. Luckily, there’s an exception to those rules!

  • If a driver can’t safely pull over at a hotel or rest area for their 10 hours off-duty, the driver may extend their driving time up to two extra hours.
  • This does not mean that a driver can work longer because of bad weather. If they could safely stop within an 11-hour drive time, they are required to do so if they cannot make it back to their home terminal within 14 hours (or under the 16-hour exception). 

The 16-Hour Exception

Some drivers are only driving one day a week, in which case, the 16-hour exception comes into play.

  • A driver on a one-day schedule may be on-duty for 16 hours if the driver begins and ends at the same terminal.
  • Driving time cannot exceed 11 hours.
  • You are not permitted to use both the 16-hour exception and the adverse driving conditions exception together. 
  • A driver that has used the 16-hour exception may not use it again until they have had a 34-hour reset. 
  • Drivers may not drive past the 16th hour when coming on-duty.

Penalties For Failure To Comply With Driving Regulations

It’s so important to follow these regulations. If any driver fails to do so, they can face serious consequences.

  • Drivers may be shut down at roadside until they have accumulated enough off-duty time to be back in compliance.
  • State and local law enforcement officials may assess fines.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) may levy civil penalties on a driver or carried, ranging from $1,000-$11,000 per violation according to the severity.
  • A carrier’s safety rating can decrease for a pattern of violations.
  • Federal criminal penalties are brought against carriers who violate the regulations. 

Each time you get behind the wheel for work, make sure you’re following all of the rules and regulations and driving as safely as possible. Here at Horizon Transport, we are committed to keeping our drivers protected and informed on the road. We wish you safe travels!