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ELD & Hours of Service

HOS (Hours-of-Service) Advanced Guide & How-To

October 28, 2023

This guide goes over aspects of HOS, including limits that can decide how you work in a day, to managing your HOS cycle which ensures your trip is compliant with the DOT & NSC.

Table of Contents

Hours of Services rules can be confusing. Our guide below will cover all aspects of hours-of-service so you can get on the road.

If you want to understand the basics of hours-of-service, visit: Hours-of-Service Simple Guide - Getting Started with HOS

United States DOT Hours of Service Rules

11 Hour US HOS Rule - Driving Limits

Within the 14 hour period, a driver can drive up to a maximum of 11 hours. These driving periods can be broken up however they like, with breaks in between, or on-duty not driving. Here is an example of how the 11 hour rule affects your driving time.

  • Driver completes 3 hours Driving
  • Driver completes 1 hours Off-Duty
  • Driver completes 8 hours Driving

In the example above, the driver would have exactly 0 hours of driving time left.

14 Hour US HOS Rule - Shift Window (On-Duty) Limits

As soon as a driver goes starts their day, the 14-hour rule kicks in. Drivers have only 14 hours from when a drivers start their On-Duty or Driving after a full break to do work. Once the 14 hour window is up, drivers can no longer drive until they complete a full off-duty break of 10+ hours. Here is an example of how the 14 hour rule affects your work shift:

  • Driver completes 6 hours Driving
  • Driver completes 5 hours On-Duty
  • Driver completes 5 hours Driving

In the example above the driver would be in violation. During their 5 hours driving period, they broke the 14 hour rule.

For a deeper guide on US Hours of Service Driving & On-Duty Shift Time, visit our guide on HOS Daily Driving & On-Duty Time Limits

Resetting US On-Duty & Driving Hours: Full Off-Duty Break

In order to reset their shift and on-duty/driving hours (excluding HOS cycles) in the US, drivers need to take 10 consecutive hours off-duty.

30-Minute Break / 8 Hour US HOS On-Duty Limits

Drivers must take a 30 minute break after 8 hours of On-Duty and Driving time.

The mandatory 30 minute break is a commonly forgotten rule. Once a driver has been On-Duty + Driving for 8 hours, they must not log any more Driving or On-Duty time until their have completed this break.

Drivers can continue to perform non-driving duties without taking the 30-minute break.

If you want to see an ELD that makes staying compliant as easy as reading the time on a clock, click here. If you operate in Canada as well, keep reading.

Different Hours of Service Cycles in the US

There are 2 different HOS cycle types that drivers can pick from in the US. These limit the number of hours a driver is on-duty within the given cycle - both driving as well as on-duty not driving gets added.

70 hours in 8 days - Ideal for drivers who operate every day of the week

60 hours in 7 days - Ideal for drivers who don’t drive every day of the week. Prior to heading out, the driver must select their cycle.

Switching Cycles: In the case the driver wants to switch cycles, they must take 34 hours off-duty consecutively.

For a deeper guide on US Hours of Service Cycles, visit our guide on HOS Duty Cycles - Managing your 70, 120, or 60 cycle

Any questions? Contact us to get in touch with our team.

Canadian NSC Hours of Service Rules

13 Hour Canadian HOS Rule - Shift/Daily Driving Limits

In any given day and shift, a driver can only drive for a maximum of 13 hours, regardless of the combination between on-duty not driving, short off-duty breaks, or driving. Here is an example demonstrating the 13 hour driving rule:

  • Driver completes 5 hours driving
  • Driver completes 1 hours off duty
  • Driver completes 8 hours driving

In the example above, the driver would have exactly 0 hours of driving time left.

16 Hour Canadian HOS Rule - Shift Window Countdown (On-Duty)

Once a driver begins their shift, they have 16 hours before they must go on another full off-duty break. Regardless of what duty status the driver is in, the 16 hours countdown does not pause - once 16 hours are up, drivers must stop being on-duty or driving. Here is an example that demonstrates the 16 hour shift window rule:

  • Driver completes 6 hours driving
  • Driver completes 5 hours Off-Duty
  • Driver completes 6 hours Driving

In the example above, the driver would be in violation. Although the driver only drove a total of 12 hours, they drove while being past the 16 hour window.

14 Hour Canadian HOS Rule - On-Duty Limit

Driver can log only 14 hours of On-Duty time before they can no longer enter the On-Duty or Driving duty status. Once a driver has ran out of 14 hours of On-Duty time, they can either go to the Sleeper Berth or Off-Duty status. Here is an example that demonstrates the 14 hour shift window rule:

  • Driver completes 6 hours Driving
  • Driver completes 5 hours On-Duty
  • Driver completes 3 hours Driving

In the example above, the driver would be in violation. Although the driver only drove a total of 9 hours, they went past the 14 hour On-Duty limit.

For a deeper guide on Canadian Hours of Service Driving & On-Duty Shift Time, visit our guide on HOS Daily Driving & On-Duty Time Limits

Resetting Canadian On-Duty & Driving Hours: Full Off-Duty Break

In order to reset your shift and refill the number of hours you are allowed on duty and driving (excluding HOS cycles) in Canada, you need 8 consecutive hours off-duty.

Hours of Service Cycles in Canada

There are 2 different HOS cycle types that drivers can pick from in Canada. However, the cycle options are quite different. Prior to heading out, the driver must select their cycle.

Cycle 1: 70 hours in 7 days

Cycle 1 allows drivers to have 70 hours of On-Duty time in a 7 day cycle. To reset this cycle, they must complete 36 Consecutive hours in the Off-Duty status.

Cycle 2: 120 hours in 14 days 

Cycle 1 allows drivers to have 120 hours of On-Duty time in a 14 day cycle. To reset this cycle, they must complete 72 Consecutive hours in the Off-Duty status.

An additional requirement for Cycle 2 is that a driver must take a consecutive 24 hours in Off-Duty status at least once after completing 70 hours in On-Duty.

Switching Cycles

In the case the driver wants to switch cycles before their current cycle is over, they must follow the reset rules for their current cycle.

For a deeper guide on Canadian Hours of Service Driving & On-Duty Shift Time, visit our guide on HOS Daily Driving & On-Duty Time Limits

Hours of Service Exemptions

Now for the fun part. The exceptions to the rules.

These generally work in your favor, so make sure you take advantage of them if you meet the requirements for the exception. Note: Only the last exception is applicable while operating in Canada.

Short Haul

Adverse Driving Conditions

Emergency Conditions

Split Sleeper Berth

Off-Duty Hours Deferral

30-Minute Break Short-Haul Exemption

If the driver meets one of the two short-haul operations requirements, they will be exempt from the 30-minute break rule in the US.

Requirements (One of the two below):

  • 100 Air Mile Driver
  • Non-CDL 150 Air-Mile Driver

100 Air Mile Driver

  • Driver operates within a 100 air-mile radius of their usual work reporting location
  • Is released from work within 12 consecutive hours at their reporting location
  • Property carrying: Has at least 10 hours off-duty between each 12 consecutive hours on duty
  • Abides by the 11 hour rule
Example: Dump truck driver

Non-CDL 150 Air-Mile Driver

  • Non-commercial motor vehicle drivers license driver
  • Operate within an 150 air-mile radius of where they report for duty
  • Driver doesn’t drive after the 14th hour after coming on duty on 5 days of any period of 7 consecutive days
  • Driver doesn't drive after the 16th hour after coming on duty on 2 days of any period of 7 consecutive days
  • Employer of driver accurately retains 6 months of hours of service logs and records.
‍Example: Pickup truck driver going longer distances

14 Hour Short-Haul Exemption

Once per cycle, or after a 34 hour off-duty reset, the driver will be allowed to extend their 14 hour driving window to 16 hours.

‍Requirements

  • Must fall under one of the short-haul categories mentioned above (100 air-mile / non-CDL 150 air-mile)
  • Must start and end their workdays in the same location for 5 consecutive work days
  • Driver must be released from duty within the 16 hours since going on duty
To learn more about whether you need or are exempt from using an ELD, visit our guide on Do you need ELDs? Rules & Exceptions

Adverse Driving Conditions

Under unexpected adverse driving conditions, drivers may drive up to 2 extra hours (13 hours).

Requirements

  • Driver cannot have been dispatched after the carrier was notified or should have known about the adverse conditions
  • The additional 2 hours must still fall within the 14 hour window

Emergency Conditions

With this exception, during the occurrence of an emergency condition, all rules could be waived. Although the definition of an ‘emergency condition’ is not made clear, the rule of thumb is that under normal circumstances, the driver could have completed their run without any violations. From the FMCSA guidelines: “The term “in any emergency” shall not be construed as encompassing such situations as a driver’s desire to get home, shippers’ demands, market declines, shortage of drivers, or mechanical failures.”

8 2, 7 3 Split Sleeper Berth (FMCSA)

This exemption allows drivers to pause their 14 hour clock (14 hour rule) for 8 hours, by splitting their 10 hour mandatory break.

If you're looking for a more advanced guide on US split-sleeper rules, visit our guide here: Split Sleeper HOS - Guide & Examples

That's why it is sometimes referred to as the 8/2 split sleeper berth exemption.

Requirements: Within the driver’s 14 hour window between two full 10 hour breaks, a driver can actually choose to split their 10 hour break into 2 shifts:

  • One shift must be at least 8 hours spent entirely in the sleeper berth
  • The other shift must be 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off-duty, or a mix of the two

The order in which the driver takes the sleeper berth shifts does not matter, however only the 8 hour+ sleeper berth shift can pause the 14 hour clock. This exception can be extremely useful in situations where a driver finds themselves waiting for hours at a loading dock - however due to its complexity, manually tracking split sleeper berth hours can easily lead to a mistakes and violations.

Split Sleeper Berth in Canada (NSC)

This exemption allows drivers to pause their 16 hour window by splitting their mandatory off-duty time into 2 shifts. However, the rules vary depending on whether they are driving alone or with a team.

For individual drivers: Total sleeper berth hours must total 10 or more hours, with an 8/2 split.

For teams (2 or more drivers): Total off duty time of 8 hours, split into 2 sleeper berth shifts:

  • Both shifts must be a minimum of 4 hours (4/4)
  • Shifts must be spent entirely in the sleeper berth
If you're looking for a more advanced guide on Canadian split-sleeper rules, visit our guide here: Split Sleeper HOS - Guide & Examples

Switchboard’s on-screen split sleeper berth option automatically tracks the pause in the 14 hour countdown, while ensuring the second shift of 2 hours is taken. Set up a free 5 minute demo here.

Off-Duty Deferral Canada HOS

Due to the daily 10 hours off-duty rule, drivers have the option of deferring 2 of the hours to the next consecutive day. However, there are quite a few requirements that need to be met:

  • The deferred hours do not eat into the 8 consecutive hours of off-duty time to reset rules (8 consecutive hours off-duty, defer < 2 hours)
  • On the next day, the driver must take 10 hours off-duty + hours deferred from previous day (20 hours off-duty in 2 days).
  • Cannot defer hours 2 days in a row.
  • Total driving time does not exceed 26 hours in the 2 days
  • Driver cannot be splitting their off-duty hours with the split sleeper berth exemption mentioned above

Crossing the US/Canada Border

If your drivers operate between the United States and Canada, unfortunately that means they will need to abide by each set of hours-of-service rules, while they are in that specific country.

None of the rules overlap, so you will need to make sure you plan ahead before you cross the border to ensure you don’t violate any hours of service rules when you do cross.

Many ELDs don’t make it easy to keep track of how much time is left for each rule, and even less so when crossing the border.

To make things easier, we’ve put together this table to show the Canadian and US rules side by side:

Staying Compliant & Organized with Hours-of-Service

We believe that ELDs should make compliance simple for drivers and safety officers. Not only should it be easy to use, it should allow users to feel confident that they will be safe from violations.

That's why Switchboard has created an ELD app that can be learnt in minutes, with little to no guidance or training.

All that's required to stay compliant in both Canada and the USA is:

  1. Click on-duty when they start their shift
  2. Make sure the timers don't hit 00:00
  3. Click off-duty when they complete their shift
On Duty GIF

It's really that simple.

Each rule is right there on screen with a countdown timer.

Leveraging the GPS technology in combination with odometer tracking allows our ELD to automatically:

  1. Switch to driving mode once the driver is on-duty and begins driving
  2. Detect border crossing to switch between US and Canada hours of service timers to ensure compliance on either side
On Duty GIF

Switchboard started with one mission: To protect drivers and trucking companies from nasty hours of service violations by simplifying compliance. Click here to learn more.

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