One of the things that define how trucking companies operate are the driving hours limitations. These limitations also impact a driver’s life in a significant way. The maximum driving hours a truck driver can have must be considered when planning every single haul. Also, company drivers, as well as owner operators, plan their daily activities around the permitted driving hours. The limitations are there for a good reason, and strict penalties are far from the only incentive to abide by them. It is essential that you know and understand all of them if you are planning to enter the trucking industry.
Why Were The Driving Limits Created?
Driving limits were created by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) as a part of the effort to reduce driver fatigue in the industry. Truck driver fatigue is one of the major safety issues in trucking as around 13% percent of all trucking accidents involve fatigued drivers. Driving limits are put in place in order to keep the drivers from spending so much time behind the wheel that they become too tired to drive safely. This is why it’s essential for every driver to follow these rules, even if they sometimes feel a bit restraining. Their sole purpose is to maximize traffic safety, and that’s in everyone’s best interest.
Source: Adobe Stock
How do Log Duty Statuses Impact Driving Hours?
Every truck driver is required to keep a logbook. A driver’s logbook contains information about the hours they were driving and the hours they were not. Referencing the logbook, a trucker can find out when their last stop was and when they need to take their next break.
What Are the Truck Driving Limits?
Truck driver driving hours are limited by a set of rules that might seem complicated at first glance. Since they are all merging into each other, we believe it’s best to have them all listed in one place.
A truck driver’s logbook
11-hour Driving Limit
The 11-hour rule defines the maximum number of consecutive hours a trucker can drive. After you’ve driven for 11 hours straight, you are mandated to make a 10-hour break. When the 10 hours pass, you have another 11 hours that you can spend behind the wheel.
14-hour Driving Limit
This rule sets the driver’s on-duty limit on a daily basis. It gives a driver a daily timeframe within which he can spend 11 hours driving. It’s also the maximum of hours a trucker can work per day. A trucker’s job may include other duties, like loading and unloading the truck, which must all fit inside the 14-hours timeframe. Any off-duty activities you may perform during this period also fall under this rule, meaning that the daily working limit is still 14 hours. Make sure you reach a truck stop or a rest area before you have reached your limit.
Source: Adobe Stock
30 Minute Break Rule
Although you can drive for 11 hours, you are mandated to make a 30-minute break after driving for 8 hours. This rule allows you to remain on duty during the break, as long as you’re not driving.
Split Sleeper Berth
The Sleeper Berth provision gives drivers a bit more freedom as it allows them to split the 10-hour break into two shorter breaks. One of these breaks must be at least 2 hours long, and it can be spent in the sleeper berth or on any other off-duty activity. The other break must be longer than 7 hours, and the driver must spend this time in the sleeper berth. The two shifts can be taken in any order.
The 14-hour limit resets after the trucker has finished both breaks, but it starts from the end of the first break.
A sleeper cab
After all the daily limit rules, there’s the weekly limit. This rule says that a driver mustn’t drive more than 60 hours per 7 days or 70 hours per 8 days. The 60 hours per 7 days rule is applied to carriers that do not operate every day, and those who operate every day have to follow the 7 hours per 80 days rule. Practically, this means that if a driver is working a maximum of 14 hours each day, he will hit the 70-hour limit by the 5ifth day. When this happens, the driver can not drive again until his working hours have dropped below the 70 hours per eight days ratio.
Can Drivers Reset the Driving Limit?
A driver can reset the driving limit at any moment by taking a 34-hour break. After this break, the driver’s limit is reset, and they have another 60 hours per 7 days or 70 hours per 8 days. This break can be taken off-duty or in the sleeper berth. If the driver decides to take his break in the sleeper berth, they need to spend at least eight of these hours in the berth.
What Are the Penalties for Not Complying With Trucking Hour Limits?
Penalties for a truck driver not complying with the rules about driving hours can be very strict. FMCSA civil penalties from $1,000 to $11,000 can be given to a driver or the trucking company he operates under.
After multiple violations, a company’s safety rating can be reduced.
If a driver or the company are willfully committing or allowing violations, they can even face federal criminal penalties.
We at Extra Mile always put safety first. And since truck driver driving hours are limited in order to increase safety, we urge everyone to follow these rules and respect the limitations.