Hours of Service – Scourge of the Trucking Industry

Scourge of the Trucking Industry

Hours of Service

The ELD Mandate is a source of contention within the trucking industry. As Phase 1 came to a close, industry segments petitioned the FMCSA for exemptions from the mandatory electronic logging device (ELD) installments.  Some achieved a 5-year victory; some won 90-day extensions; some gained partial exemptions. But, what are these segments really railing against? ELDs are only a tool for tracking Hours of Service (HOS). They don’t change the law, just the way compliance with the law is tracked. Which suggests ELDs aren’t the problem. They are the symptom. The real pain point within trucking is the HOS.

Hours of Service Explained

The HOS have been around since 1937 and were designed to help combat truck driver fatigue. While they have undergone changes over the years, here are the rules as they stand today:

  • 8-hour – A driver must take a break before or when a driver reaches 8 consecutive hours of On-Duty time.

    • At this point, the driver must take at least a 30-minute break of Off-Duty time.

  • 11-hour – A driver may only drive up to 11 hours on any given work period (after at least 10 consecutive hours Off-Duty).

  • 14-hour – A driver may not drive past the 14th consecutive hour following a driver’s 10-hour rest break Off-Duty.

    • A 30-minute break Off-Duty does not extend the 14-hour period.

  • 10-hour – The 10-hour Off-Duty rest break resets the 14-hour and 11-hour clocks.

  • 60/70-hour – A driver may not drive after reaching 60/70-hours of combined On-Duty time in an 7/8-day period.

    • At this point, the driver much take a 34-hour break to reset their work clock.

If the HOS is decades old, why is it a problem now?

According to the FMCSA, “An ELD synchronizes with a vehicle engine to automatically record driving time, for easier, more accurate hours of service (HOS) recording.”  Translation: there is no more wiggle room. Driving over the 11-hour rule, even by a minute, is a DOT violation and situations like traffic and long detention times can severely cut into a driver’s clock (and paycheck).  When paper logs were king, it was easy to manipulate time so drivers weren’t punished for circumstances outside of their control. With the ELD now doing the tracking, fudging time here-and-there is no longer an option. Once that clock runs out, that’s it.

Proposed Solutions

As a result, several carriers are protesting strict adherence to the HOS. They argue that the current rules actually increase instead of hinder driver fatigue. There are currently two proposed solutions:

Split Sleeper Berth Pilot Program

In November 2015, the FMCSA proposed its Split Sleeper Berth Pilot Program. This program will track around 200 drivers – 50 drivers every 90 days – and their fatigue patterns when allowed greater flexibility when splitting their sleeper berth time: 3-7, 4-6, 5-5. The current provision only allows an 8-2 split.  The actual study begins the summer of 2018. The goal is to determine if splitting the sleeper berth time will cut down on driver fatigue.


Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) filed a bill known as the Responsible and Effective Standards for Truckers (REST) Act that would add a pause button into the HOS. Essentially, once a day drivers would be allowed to pause their 14-hour clock for up to 3 hours. One of the REST Act’s arguments is, “Greater flexibility in hours of service requirements would better allow professional drivers to rest when they feel it appropriate and avoid congestion, adverse weather conditions, or other road conditions that decrease safety.”

What are your thoughts?

The HOS is not going away, but it can be changed. How would you like to see it evolve? Are you a fan of one of the two proposed solutions, or do you have another idea? Let us know!

By |2018-08-31T08:14:09+00:00April 27th, 2018|Industry News|2 Comments

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  1. Bill Cunningham April 28, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    My frustration hasn’t been the ELD so much as the 14 hour limit. The 14 hour limit is actually dangerous because on day’s that you have unloaded and then reloaded, most of your driving time get’s used up doing thing’s that you don’t get paid for, ( we also have to fuel, eat and take shower’s) which also eat’s into our driving time, then when you are driving later in the day and get tired and feel like you need to stop and take a nap, you can’t really afford to because it’s cost’s you money that you can’t afford to lose. Who can sleep with that clock ticking in their head, knowing that each minute is taking money out of their pocket. It’s not safe splashing water on your face and hanging your head out the window while driving down the road just to stay awake. The “REST act” (pause button) would resolve that “DANGEROUS” problem. It has never made any sense to me why on earth the dot came up with the 14 limit in the first place. We already had limit’s on the amount of time a driver could drive per day. Now the ELD will see that and a driver would have to comply with that. There is absolutely no need for the “14 hour limit”. IT’S DANGEROUS !!!!!!! and miserable when you’re only 15 minute’s from home and you have to stop and spend the night on the side of the road somewhere. Thank You representative Brian Babin for ” THE REST ACT”. I hope it passes.

  2. Chris Abildstrom April 28, 2018 at 8:44 am

    Eliminate both the 34 hour restart and the 14 hour clock. In no other industry are the employees gettting 10 hours a day rest. If I’m getting 10 hours a day rest then why would I need to sit out 34 hours for additional rest.

    The 14 hour clock is out of date it doesn’t do anything except cause stress.

    So 8 hours driving then a 30 minute break followed by 3 hours additional driving followed by 10 consecutive hours off duty. 7 days a week for a total of 77 hours drive time

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