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Breaking Down Driver’s Hours of Service for Long Haul Commercial Freight

breaking down driver's service hours
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The transportation industry is mainly driven by deadlines or delivery due dates, and in most cases the age-old adage still applies; Time is Money! Here at FreightPros we aim to set the proper expectations for both customers and drivers when it comes to delivering a shipment safely and in a successful time frame.

One of the most important factors we have to take into consideration is the Driver‘s Hours of Service or Driving Time. Drivers have to clock-in for their 8am to 5pm job just like all of us, but there are specific limits on the hours they can drive in a day.

It’s important to stay up-to-date on these hours as they can change from time to time to ensure the safety of the motoring public. To keep track of their hours drivers are required to keep a daily log showing their on-duty and off-duty time for a 24-hr period.

These parameters are determined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (a division of the US Department of Transportation), and apply to all operators of large commercial vehicles (truck tractor with a trailer). They have established Truck Driver’s Hours of Service Regulations or Limits in order to keep fatigued drivers off the roads. It’s a serious business, and safety always comes first.

All commercial truck drivers must follow 3 maximum on-duty limits at all times:

14-hour limit (Driving Block/Window) – Drivers are allowed a 14-hour driving window only after they have been off duty for 10 hours or more. Within that 14-hour driving window they are only allowed to drive 11 hours of actual driving. The other 3 hours can be used as a lunch break or nap. Once they reach the 14-hour driving limit they must take a 10 hour break to be able to restart another driving window.

11-hour driving limit (Actual Driving) – Drivers are allowed to operate their truck for 11 hours of actual driving within the 14-hour driving window. Within those 11 hours they are required to take a 30-minute break that must be taken on or before the driver reaches 8 hours of consecutive driving.

Once the 11 hours are complete they are not allowed to drive again until they have been off-duty for at least 10 consecutive hours, at which point a fresh 14-hour driving window is allowed or renewed.

70-hour/8-day limit (Weekly Limit) – This limit is based on an 8-day rolling period once the driver has indicated on his log the beginning of a 24-hour window. This also marks the beginning of his work week. If the driver operates his commercial vehicle every day of the week then he is not allowed to drive after being on duty 70 hours for 8 consecutive days.

At this point driver is allowed to take a 34-hour “Restart” in order to come under 70 hours in an 8-day period. After being off-duty for 34 consecutive hours, they have a fresh 70 hours available to work again.

As you can see breaking down the driver’s hours of service can get a little confusing. That’s why it’s imperative that you vet your carriers properly to ensure they’re following all the rules.

Using things such as GPS truck tracking can help, but a good carrier always knows it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to long haul drivers and the threat of exhaustion.

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