FMCSA   |   Who Must Comply  |   Hour of Service   |   FAQ's   |   HOS FAQ's 
The hours of service regulations govern the amount of time a commercial truck driver is allowed to drive his or her truck in the course of their workday. Because we serve that segment of the industry that mainly deals with what is generally known as the Over-the-road driver ("OTR Driver") we will keep this explanation of the rules to that segment of the industry. An OTR Driver is a driver that generally picks up a load in one state and delivers it in another. Most of these drivers drive a truck which is outfitted with a sleeper berth compartment known throughout the industry as a "Sleeper". This is the large compartment located directly behind the cab of the vehicle.

Log Book:  Although some companies have migrated to Electronic Log Books the majority of the industry continues to use the paper version of the Log Book (pdf).  Drivers use this book to record their daily activities in four formats:

  1. Time spent Off-Duty
  2. Time spent in the Sleeper Berth
  3. Time spent Driving
  4. Time spent On-Duty, Not Driving.

Anytime a driver changes from one mode to another it is considered a "Change of Duty Status" and must be recorded in the remarks section of the lob book.  Every stop a driver makes must be recorded except for stops less than 15 minutes in length. 

14-Hour Rule:  Regardless what time a driver starts his or her day, they have 14 hours to complete their run at which time they must take a minimum of ten (10) hours off-duty.  The only time a driver can "Stop the clock" is when he or she enters the "Sleeper Berth" for a minimum of 8 hours.  No other breaks, including lunch, can stop the clock.  This means that all time spent driving, loading and unloading, having lunch, taking a short break, fueling up, or waiting to be loaded or unloaded goes against the 14 hour clock. 

Before October 2005 drivers were allowed to stop the clock whenever they needed a short break or had lunch.  They did this by logging that portion of their day as "Off-Duty".  This rule was amended in 2005 removing this practice and forcing drivers to keep the clock running unless they entered the sleeper berth compartment for no less than eight (8) hours. 

11-Hour Rule:  The 11-hour rule states that a driver may drive for 11 hours at which time they must take a 10-hour break (Prior to October 2005 drivers were only allowed to drive 10 hours at which point an eight (8) hour break was required).  Drivers are also not allowed to drive after reaching the 14th hour (see 14-hour rule above).  This means that drivers are allowed to drive 11-hours of their 14-hour day.  This leaves three hours for all other functions including meals and breaks.  This means that any time spent on non-driving activities eats into the allowed driving time.  This is why so many drivers get very nervous whenever a shipper or receiver makes them wait. 

10-Hour Rule:  The 10-hour rule states that drivers must, after reaching their 14th hour, take a minimum 10 hour break before they can resume driving.  This 10-hour break can be taken in the form of time in the "Sleeper-Berth" or, if at their home terminal, as Off-Duty. 

Split-Sleeper Rule:  Before October 2005 drivers were allowed to split their sleeper berth time into two separate periods as long as both periods exceeded two hours each and, when combined, equaled ten hours.  Using this exemption drivers were able to stop the clock for periodic rest breaks.  Today's rule still allows them to "split" the sleeper period but one of the splits must be eight (8) hours long and the remaining two (2) hours do not stop the clock.  Only the eight hours stops the clock but you must use the two hours for it to qualify.   If you think this is confusing then join the crowd.  Most drivers opt to use the full ten hours and skip trying to manage their time by using the split-sleeper rule. 

Other Issues

In a perfect world the driver would breeze through the day and everything would come together and deliveries would always be on time.  In reality drivers must deal with heavy traffic, road construction, lane closures, accidents, breakdowns, seasonal weather and every other problem you can think of.  Add to this, road side inspections by the DOT, and you have a multitude of issues that eat into a drivers 14-hour day. 

Because of these "interruptions" many drivers are unable to complete their day in an efficient manner.  Many reach the 14th hour long before they get their 11 hours of allowed driving time completed.  There are many other rules and regulations that govern the transportation industry.  All of these can be seen at the web site for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

You can also call Brian Boulet at 800-394-9928 x223 to discuss these and other issues regarding your transportation needs.  Or write to

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