Hours of Services rules can be confusing. Our guide below will cover all aspects of US FMCSA hours-of-service so you can get on the road. Below, we will go over:
US HOS Rules
- On-Duty Shift Windows
- Driving Window
- 30-minute break
- US HOS Cycles
- Off Duty Deferral
- Split Sleeper
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.
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.
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:
- Click on-duty when they start their shift
- Make sure the timers don't hit 00:00
- Click off-duty when they complete their shift
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:
- Switch to driving mode once the driver is on-duty and begins driving
- Detect border crossing to switch between US and Canada hours of service timers to ensure compliance on either side
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.