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In most cases, the amount you drive directly impacts the amount you make, so you probably want to drive as much as possible (and your carrier probably wants that too). However, too much of a good thing is rarely a good thing. You can only be on the road for so long before you begin experiencing fatigue, and fatigue can be dangerous – in fact, it’s responsible for 13% of large truck crashes

We understood the risks of driver fatigue even in the early days of the trucking industry, so in 1935, the FCMSA decided to do something about it. They implemented regulations requiring rest for drivers, and although these laws have changed throughout the decades, Hours of Service rules aren’t going anywhere. Today, one of the most impactful is the DOT 14 hour rule.  

Hours Of Service Rules

The Department of Transportation (DOT) Hours of Service (HOS) laws such as the DOT 14 hour rule are a set of regulations that limit the amount of time truckers can spend on duty, set maximum driving times, and specify the frequency and length of breaks. The goal? Help those in charge of heavy vehicles stay alert, awake, and safe. These rules apply to anyone operating vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of at least 10,001 pounds or transporting hazardous materials requiring a placard – which encompasses the vast majority of truck drivers. 

To keep track of DOT HOS, most drivers are required to have an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) hard-wired to their vehicle’s engine. But, there are some exceptions: 

  • Drivers who keep Record of Duty Service no more than 8 days during any 30-day period
  • Driveaway-towaway drivers, provided the vehicle driven is part of the shipment or the vehicle being transported is a motor home or recreational vehicle trailer
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before the model year 2000

The DOT 14 Hour Rule

The DOT 14 hour rule states that a property-carrying driver cannot drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty without first taking 10 consecutive hours off-duty. 

The 11 Hour Rule

The 11 hour rule specifies that a driver can only drive for 11 hours total during the 14 hour limit.

60/70 Hour Limit

Commercial truck drivers who drive 6 or fewer days a week cannot drive after spending 60 hours on duty during a seven-day period. Those that drive every day of the week cannot drive after spending 70 hours on duty in eight consecutive days.

34 Hour Restart

Once they reach the 60 or 70 hour limit, drivers can restart their seven or eight-day period after taking 34 consecutive hours off-duty. 

2020 Updates To The HOS Rules

In September 2020, the DOT made four changes to the HOS regulations designed to provide greater flexibility for drivers without negatively impacting their safety.

Short-Haul Exception

The updates included two changes to the short-haul exception. First, the maximum duty period for short-haul drivers changed from 12 to 14 hours, and second, the maximum radius short-haul drivers can operate in has increased from 100 to 150 air miles (172.6 land miles). 

Adverse Conditions Exception

Now, when truck drivers encounter adverse driving conditions, they can increase their duty day (limited by the DOT 14 hour rule) and driving time (limited by the 11 hour rule) by up to 2 hours. 

30-Minute Break Requirement 

The 30-minute break requirement says that drivers must take a break after eight cumulative driving hours (instead of after eight hours on duty). It also allows on-duty time spent not driving to count towards the break. 

Sleeper Berth Provision

The sleeper berth provision gives drivers more flexibility in how they divide the ten hours they must spend off-duty. One off-duty period of seven consecutive hours or more must be spent in the sleeper berth, while the other off-duty period of two hours or more can be spent in or outside of the sleeper berth. So, drivers can divide their time 7/3, 8/2, 7.5/2.5, etc. so long as the two periods add up to ten hours. 

Here’s an example of how a truck driver could spend their day:

Penalties For Violating The HOS Rules

Violations of the DOT 14 hour rule and other HOS laws are actually quite common. The long-haul truck driver survey found that over half of all truck drivers in the US go over the weekly limit of 60 hours per week, and of those drivers, one in 5 work more than 75 hours per week… which could put them in a sticky situation. The FMCSA can force civil penalties onto drivers and carriers ranging from a few hundred to $16,000 for the most glaring HOS violations. And that’s not all. Noncompliance with HOS can detrimentally impact CSA scores, and if an employer is encouraging HOS violations, they could even face criminal penalties. 

Follow Federal Requirements With i2290

When it comes to following federal requirements, you don’t want to mess around, and that’s especially true when it comes to paying taxes. Luckily, with i2290, filing Form 2290 and paying the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax is easy. All you have to do is create an account, enter some information about your business and your vehicles, and we’ll automatically calculate your taxes for you. The entire process takes only a few minutes, and you’ll receive an IRS-stamped Schedule 1 almost instantly. 

Ready to get started? Create an account today!

Special note: This article is for general purposes, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, investment, or accounting advice. The best way to ensure you’re properly filing for a refund or credit and paying appropriate taxes is by following IRS regulations and consulting with a tax professional.

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