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If you’re new to the trucking industry or just curious about the rules truck drivers must follow, you’ve come to the right place. The Department of Transportation (DOT) hours of service regulations are designed to keep truckers and everyone else on the road safe. Let’s break down what these rules mean and how they impact a trucker’s daily and weekly schedule.

What Are DOT Hours of Service?

DOT hours of service are regulations that limit how long a truck driver can be on the road. These rules are set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to prevent fatigue and ensure that truckers get enough rest. The main goal is to reduce accidents caused by tired drivers.

The Daily Driving Limit

One of the key rules is the daily driving limit. Truckers can drive a maximum of 11 hours within a 14-hour period. Here’s how it works:

  1. 14-Hour Window: Once a trucker starts their day, they have a 14-hour window to complete their driving. This period starts when they begin any work-related activity, not just driving.
  2. 11-Hour Driving Limit: Within that 14-hour window, they can only drive for up to 11 hours. The other 3 hours can be used for breaks, loading, unloading, or any other non-driving work.

For example, if a trucker starts their day at 6:00 AM, they have until 8:00 PM to complete their driving. However, they can only drive for 11 hours during this period.

Required Breaks

To ensure truckers stay alert and well-rested, there are also rules about breaks:

  1. 30-Minute Break: After 8 hours of driving, truckers must take a 30-minute break. This break can be used for anything other than driving, like eating, resting, or checking the truck.
  2. Rest Breaks: Truckers are encouraged to take additional rest breaks as needed to stay alert and safe.

The 60/70-Hour Limit

In addition to daily limits, there are also weekly limits. These limits depend on whether a company operates trucks every day of the week or just six days a week:

  1. 60-Hour Limit: If a company operates six days a week, truckers can work up to 60 hours in any 7-day period.
  2. 70-Hour Limit: If a company operates seven days a week, truckers can work up to 70 hours in any 8-day period.

These weekly limits include all on-duty time, not just driving. On-duty time can include tasks like loading and unloading, truck inspections, and any other work-related activities.

The 34-Hour Restart Rule

Sometimes, truckers need a fresh start to their week. That’s where the 34-hour restart rule comes in:

  1. 34-Hour Restart: After reaching the 60 or 70-hour limit, truckers can reset their weekly hours by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off duty. This often includes two nights of sleep, helping truckers get a full rest before hitting the road again.

For example, if a trucker hits their 60-hour limit by Friday night, they can take Saturday and Sunday off. After 34 hours off duty, they can start fresh on Monday morning with a new 60-hour or 70-hour week.

Why These Rules Matter

The DOT hours of service rules are crucial for several reasons:

  1. Safety: Fatigue is a major cause of accidents on the road. These rules help ensure truckers are well-rested and alert.
  2. Health: Regular breaks and rest periods help truckers stay healthy and avoid long-term health problems caused by lack of sleep and stress.
  3. Compliance: Following these rules is not just about safety; it’s also about staying compliant with federal regulations. Violating hours of service rules can result in hefty fines and penalties for both truckers and their employers.

How to Track Hours

Truckers use logbooks to track their hours of service. These can be either paper logs or electronic logging devices (ELDs). ELDs automatically record driving time, making it easier to stay compliant with the rules.

Final Thoughts

Understanding and following the DOT hours of service rules is essential for every trucker. These regulations are in place to keep everyone on the road safe and ensure that truckers are working under healthy and manageable conditions.

For more information and tips on trucking, visit Stay safe and happy trucking!

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