Deadlines are something more than an occupational nuisance for truck drivers. Tight schedules often create considerable demands. The training for becoming a truck driver doesn’t only include behind-the-wheel training. It also includes how long a truck driver is permitted to be behind the wheel in order to meet delivery schedules. It’s not only for the safety of truck drivers, but also for the safety of those who are around them on the roads. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has put strict regulations in place regarding the maximum number of hours that a truck driver can spend on the road per day.
Who Must Follow FMCSA Hours of Service Regulations?
The general rule is that drivers of commercial trucks that meet one or more of the following descriptions must comply with all applicable FMCSA regulations:
- The vehicle weighs 10,001 pounds or more.
- The gross combination of weight is 10,001 or more.
- The truck is carrying large amounts of dangerous materials.
Large Trucks that Carry Property
Hours of service rules appear to be increasingly more complex. Whether they’re driving intrastate here in Arizona, where our Phoenix truck driver training facility is located, or interstate across the country, here are some of the rules that we teach our student truck drivers:
- A driver can transport property for up to 11 hours after taking 10 consecutive days off of work.
- They can’t drive their trucks for more than 14 hours after 10 days off.
- 30-minute breaks from driving must be taken every eight hours when a driver is on duty.
- Driving 60 to 70 hours while on duty is prohibited for seven or eight days in a row. This 60/70 rule can be avoided if the driver takes 34 or more consecutive hours off of duty.
- For trucks that are outfitted with sleeper berths, a 10-hour off-duty period can be split into two segments. Each portion of each such segment must be for at least two hours.
- If adverse driving conditions are encountered when on the road, a driver is allowed to extend the 11- and 14-hour driving time limit by another two hours.
The Short Haul Exception
There is a short-haul exception that might apply to the above circumstances. That exception exists under the following circumstances:
- The driver is operating at a distance of 150 straight miles.
- The driver has not gone over the 14-hour time limit.
- The driver leaves and returns to the usual and customary work location within 14 straight hours.
Verifying Hours of Service
All commercial truck drivers who haul property are required to maintain detailed records of their hours of service. Keeping such records can become tedious though, as multiple records might be needed. Drivers have historically maintained handwritten log books that confirm their operating hours. Newer trucks have their own computers that operate to maintain hours of service and other important information. They’re commonly referred to as a truck’s black box.
The FMCSA implemented hours of service regulations to reduce drowsy or fatigued driving by truck drivers. Operating a truck under such physical and mental conditions drastically reduces reaction time in the event of an emergency. The prevention of accidents, injuries, and deaths is central to our Phoenix truck driver training program. Of course, not all of these accidents are caused by truck drivers, but the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration predicts a 10% increase in traffic fatalities between 2020 and 2021. The 2021 figures have yet to be released. Our vision for the next new year is zero truck accidents. We work toward that vision in our training of new truck drivers every day.