Truck drivers are governed by Hours of Service regulations. If you haul interstate commerce, defined as any cargo that is shipped with the intention of delivery to another state or country, you fall under federal Hours of Service regulations, even if you only drive within a single state. If you only haul intrastate commerce, which is cargo shipped from an address in one state to another address in that same state, you fall under that state’s regulations.
Here we will break down the federal Hours of Service requirements, which are often, though not always, identical to state law. There are three maximum duty limits: the 14-hour “driving window,” the 11-hour driving limit, and the 60-hour/7-day and 70-hour/8-day duty limits.
The driving window is the maximum number of clock hours during which you may drive before taking a rest period. Under federal regulations, the driving window is 14 hours, followed by a mandatory 10-hour rest break. This means that if your last 10-hour break ended at 8 a.m., your 14-hour driving window would end at 10 p.m. that same night. You are allowed to do other work after that, but may not drive again until after a 10-hour rest period.
Although you have a 14-hour window during which you may drive, you are not allowed to drive continuously for that time. You may only drive for 11 total hours within that 14-hour window. In addition, you may not drive for more than 8 hours before taking a 30-minute rest. A meal break or other time spent off-duty counts as the rest break, and the rest break counts as part of the 14-hour window. You may do other work after your 11 driving hours are over, but may not drive again until after a 10-hour rest period.
Rolling Weekly Duty Limit
The 60-hour/7-day or 70-hour/8-day rolling schedule can be confusing. It refers to the total number of hours that a truck driver can work within a set period of time. Companies that do not operate trucks every day must follow the 60/7 schedule, while those that do can choose either schedule.
Once you hit your hour limit, you may do other work, but you may not drive again until you are completely off duty for enough days for your schedule to roll over. For example, if you work 5 14-hour days in a row, even if you are not driving, you will hit the 70-hour limit for an 8-day schedule. You may not drive again until you drop below a total of 70 hours worked within 8 days.
However, the regulations do allow trucking companies to offer you a 34-hour restart. That means that if you are entirely off duty for 34 hours straight, your rolling limit will reset to zero, and you can start driving again.
Sleeper Berth Provision
A sleeper berth in your truck can be used in several important ways. First, time spent in the sleeper berth counts toward your 10 hours of off-duty time. Next, if you spend 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, those hours do not count toward the 14-hour daily limit. Finally, you could take an 8-hour rest period in the sleeper berth and a separate 2-hour rest period in or out of the sleeper berth to reset the 14-hour clock to the end of the first rest period.
If you drive as part of a two-person team, it is possible to keep the truck moving. Eight of the 10 mandated rest hours must be spent in the sleeper berth, or otherwise entirely resting off-duty. However, you can also count two hours in the passenger seat as off-duty time. The rest of the time that you are riding in the passenger seat counts as on-duty, but not driving, time.
Hours of Service regulations are quite complex, and there are several exceptions and rules that you must be familiar with. The above is a general guide, but it is important to study the regulations in detail to make sure you don’t run afoul of the law.