In December 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a final rule revising the hours-of-service (HOS) safety requirements for commercial truck drivers. The effective date of the Hours of Service of Drivers Final Rule is today, February 27, 2012, and the compliance date is July 1, 2013.

To help commercial truck drivers understand and follow the new HOS rules, FMCSA published an online brochure entitled Hours of Service Logbook Examples. Below are three of the examples from that publication:

  • Violations: There is a violation in this example at 6:00 p.m. on Day 1.
    Explanation: This is an example of the limit on consecutive hours of driving and necessary rest breaks. After 10 consecutive hours off duty, the driver had 14 hours available (and 11 hours driving) starting at 10:00 a.m. on Day 1. A driver may drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes. Therefore, in this example after 1 hour on duty, 5 hours of driving, and another 2 hours on duty, the driver must take his/her necessary 30-minute break at 6:00 p.m. As the driver drove the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) at this point he/she is in violation of the 30-minute break provision at 6:00 p.m. on Day 1. Starting at Midnight on Day 2, the driver must go off duty for a minimum of 10 consecutive hours before he/she may drive again, which is indicated on the log. *The compliance date for the 30-minute break provision is July 1, 2013.
  • Violations: There is a violation in this example beginning on Sunday (1/9).
    Explanation: This is another example of the new restart provision. After June 30, 2013, a driver may not take an off-duty period to restart the calculation of 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days until 168 or more consecutive hours have passed since the beginning of the last such off-duty period. In this example, the driver reaches his/her maximum 60 hours (on duty and driving) in 7 days on Thursday (1/6). The driver begins his/her next “claimed” 34-hour restart on Friday (1/7), which goes through Saturday (1/8) (48 total hours). The driver then begins to drive the CMV on Sunday (1/9) and is in violation at this point, as the “claimed” restart beginning on Friday (1/7) did not meet the HOS rule conditions. This is because the 168-hour period is counted from the beginning of the last prior restart, which in this example was on Saturday (1/1), and the next restart cannot start until Saturday (1/8). The restart must include two periods between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. as well. *The compliance date for the new restart provision is July 1, 2013.
  • Violations: There is an 11-hour rule violation from 6:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., and a 14-hour rule violation from 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., both on Day 2.
    Explanation – 11-Hour Limit: After 10 hours off duty, the driver had 11 hours of driving time available at 10:00 a.m. on Day 1 (CP#1). The driver did not have another 10-hour break (or the equivalent) until 1:00 p.m. on Day 2, so the calculation point never changes. The driver accumulated 6 total hours of driving on Day 1 and reached the 11 hour (driving) limit at 6:30 a.m. on Day 2.
    Explanation – 14-Hour Limit: Calculation of the 14-hour limit begins at 10:00 a.m. on Day 1 (CP#1). At Midnight on Day 1, the driver still had 8 hours remaining because any S/B period of at least 8 but less than 10 consecutive hours is excluded from the 14 hour calculation. The driver reached the 14-hour limit at 8:00 a.m. on Day 2, where the violation began.

For the new HOS rule to help prevent fatigue-related truck crashes and save lives, truck drivers need to fully understand the law and how to follow it. Tools like FMCSA’s Hours of Service Logbook Examples can be useful for that. In addition, FMCSA has to aggressively enforce the HOS rules. Earlier this week, semi truck accident attorney Eric Hageman discussed a proposed FMCSA rule, Electronic On-Board Recorders and Hours of Service Supporting Documents. This rule would require most commercial truck drivers in interstate commerce to use electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) to keep track of hours of service in lieu of a paper log. EOBRs are more reliable and harder to tamper with after an accident.