FAQs about Hours of Service and Regulations

Freightliner Trucks
On-Highway Newsletter
The different driving rules and regulations mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) can be hard to keep straight, but are important to follow. The exhilaration and independence of driving Class 8 trucks comes with great responsibility to manage time wisely and keep the roadways safe by preventing driver fatigue. Fleet managers carry the responsibility of making sure their drivers are up to date on these rules and regulations. Here’s a quick-start guide for new drivers (and a good refresher for veterans) on the hours-of-service (HOS) regulations.

Q: What is the maximum number of consecutive hours I can drive a property-carrying truck?

A: There are two different driving limits that property-carrying trucks must abide by: the 11-Hour Driving Limit and the 14-Hour Driving Window. This means that you have a 14-consecutive-hour window from the time you come on duty to drive a maximum of 11 hours. After each 14-Hour Driving Window you must have a minimum of 10 consecutive hours off duty.

For example, if you begin work at 7:00 a.m., you may not drive your truck past 9:00 p.m. that night, even if you took extended breaks during the day that prevented you from clocking 11 hours of drive time. Extended off-duty time does not extend the 14-Hour Driving Window unless you were off duty for 10 consecutive hours. The 14-Hour Driving Window only resets after 10 hours off duty.

Q: What are the rules for rest breaks?

A: Drivers must take a minimum 30-minute break or sleeper berth period every eight hours of drive time. Any 30 minutes of off-duty time, including meals, counts as a break. Your breaks also count against your 14-Hour Driving Window.

Q: What is the Sleeper Berth Provision?

A: Drivers who have a sleeper berth that is up to code with the safety regulations, and use it during their off-duty time, may be able to extend their 14-Hour Driving Window. Here’s how the Sleeper Berth Provision works:

When drivers spend at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, that rest period does not count towards their 14-Hour Driving Window. However, they must take a second rest period of at least two hours, either in the sleeper berth or as off-duty time. This second rest period does count towards the 14-Hour Driving Window, and each rest period must be less than 10 consecutive hours. Drivers on this schedule may reset their 14-Hour Driving Window to start after they completed their first required rest period. However, they must still comply with the 11-Hour Driving Limit.

Let’s say you begin driving at 7:00 a.m., stop at 12:00 p.m. for a 30-minute lunch and then spend eight hours in the sleeper berth. At this point it is 8:30 p.m., you have driven five of your 11 hours, and your 14-Hour Window has now been extended from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. the following day (9:00 p.m. + eight hours). You then drive for another six hours from 8:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., when you take your second break by spending two hours off duty. That brings you to 4:30 a.m.

At this point, your new 14-Hour Driving Window is reset from the time you completed your first break (8:30 p.m.) and is extended from 5:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Between 8:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. the previous shift, you drove six hours, which means that according to the 11-Hour Driving Rule, you can only drive another five hours before taking a third rest period of at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth. After that rest period, your new 14- and 11-hour calculation periods will begin at the end of your second rest period from earlier (4:30 a.m.).

The Cascadia sleeper berth features a unique Driver Loft with a Murphy-style full-size bed for ultimate comfort during downtime on the road. Learn more about the Cascadia.

Q: What is the 60/70-Hour Limit?

A: Under this rule, you may not drive more than 60 hours on duty over seven consecutive days, or 70 hours on duty over eight consecutive days. Once this limit has been reached, you must take a minimum of 34 consecutive hours off duty before beginning a new seven- or eight-day period. During this 34-hour break, you may do other work, such as loading or unloading the truck, or paperwork.

Q: What is the Adverse Driving Conditions Exception?

A: This exception refers to unexpected driving delays due to uncontrollable circumstances, such as winter weather or lane closures from an accident. Known driving conditions, such as rush-hour traffic or construction projects, are not covered by the exception. Under the exception rule, you are allowed to drive up to an extra two hours, increasing your 11-Hour Driving Limit to 13 hours, based on how far you could have driven in normal conditions. However, the extended hours still must be completed within the 14-Hour Driving Window.

For more information on HOS and regulations, visit the FMCSA website.