8 HOS violations and how to avoid them

Hours of Service violations, also known as HOS violations, is a common theme in the trucking industry. In 2019, state and federal agencies performed nearly 3.5 million roadside inspections, and nearly 21 percent of vehicles were placed out of service.  Knowing and following the HOS rules are the best ways to avoid violation penalties. The goal of HOS rules? To minimize driver fatigue and improve overall safety on the roads.  A driver should be familiar with HOS restrictions, but should also be able to rely on a good ELD system that alerts them before a violation occurs. In this post, we’re going to provide the key information every driver needs to know in order to keep rolling—and avoid those costly HOS violation penalties. 

Hours of Service (History) 

 A comprehensive fleet management solution keeps you one step ahead of inspections and helps you avoid the costly consequences of a failed inspection. Hours of service violations were the principal reason for the ELD mandate. Prior to ELDs, drivers kept paper logbooks. Eventually, the FMCSA realized that paper logbooks can easily be altered by bad actors. Nowadays, the HOS, RODS, and ELD rules all work together.

Electronic logbook apps that take advantage of the massive computing power many of us already carry in our pockets provide an excellent replacement to paper logbooks. These apps are often free and can be used to help eliminate all HOS-related driver violations. The fact is, ELDs basically track a truck’s every move. If you want to avoid HOS violation penalties, the bottom line is simple: you need to know the HOS rules and you need tech watching your back.

Who Must Comply With HOS Rules?

A driver of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) involved in interstate commerce must comply with HOS rules if their vehicle:

  • weighs 10,001 pounds or more.
  • has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more.
  • transports hazardous materials in any quantity that requires placards.
  • is designed or used to transport 16 (or more) passengers (including the driver) not for compensation.
  • is designed or used to transport 9 (or more) passengers (including the driver) for compensation.

HOS Violations and how to avoid them 

This list of violations ranges from minor mistakes, all the way to an increased chance of out-of-service violations. Not only do these violations affect the HOS safety score, fines can often be costly especially for repeat offenders.

1. Driving over 60/70 hours in 7/8 days

Truck drivers can only be on duty for a maximum of 60 hours in a seven-day period or 70 hours in an eight-day period. The driving cycle depends on how many days of the week your carrier operates:

If your carrier operates every day of the week, you are eligible to operate under the 70-hour/8-day cycle, which limits a driver to 70 on-duty hours over any 8-day period.

If your carrier operates for fewer than 7 days in a week, you are eligible to operate under the 60-hour/7-day cycle, which limits a driver to 60 on-duty hours over any 7-day window.

A driver may restart a new seven- or eight-day period after they’ve taken at least 34 consecutive hours off duty. Even if you have not worked the full 60 to 70 hour work week, once you take a 34-hour restart all of your hours are made available again.

2. The 14-hour rule

Driving beyond the14-hour duty period is the most common violation when it comes to drivers going beyond their allotted time. According to the rule ,a property-carrying driver can’t be on duty for more than 14 consecutive hours. When a driver comes on-duty after taking at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty, he or she has a 14-hour window to complete driving for the day.

If you are using an electronic logging app, you really don’t have to worry about the 14-hour violations anymore. E-logs app, based on your duty status, automatically tracks 14-hour driving shifts and alert drivers in case of upcoming violations.

It is important to note that 14-hour violations carry 7 points, which can seriously affect a fleet’s CSA score.

3. The 11-hour rule

Most CMV drivers are allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours per shift. However, drivers often forget that their 11-hour shift is up, and they continue driving which results in a violation. Those extra 3 hours account for all of the other work-related duties that are possible in a day’s work (waiting to be unloaded, contacting dispatch, etc.). Just be sure you don’t drive more than 11 of your 14 hour day.

4. The 30-minute break

After a 10-hour off-duty period, drivers can’t then exceed 8 hours of driving time without a break of 30 consecutive minutes.  Drivers can perform non-driving tasks after 8 hours without taking a break, but they cannot drive. Stopping for gas, doing a pre-trip inspection, or doing paperwork can be considered part of the 30-minute break.

5. Split Sleeper Berth 

The split sleeper berth allows drivers to split the required 10-hour off-duty break into two shifts. One of those shifts must be between 8-10 hours, spent entirely in the sleeper. The second shift can be between 2-8 hours and completed in the sleeper berth, off-duty, or as a combination of sleeper berth and off-duty. The final HOS rules of service allow a 7/3 split, to provide a driver more flexibility.

For instructions on how does the Split sleeper work Click Here  

6. Personal Conveyance Rule

The personal conveyance rule is entirely an exemption to the HOS rules. In short, the rule outlines the ways a driver may drive their CMV (including while loaded) legally while off duty. Appropriate use of a CMV for personal conveyance is allowed. The one caveat is that the driving must not be for the commercial benefit of the motor carrier at that time. This includes activities like driving to and from a restaurant, motel, truck stop, or home.

7. False logs 

Falsification of logs is a common driver violation that regularly appears as one of the top three violations during the annual International Roadcheck. Over 75% of the time, a false report of a driver’s record of duty status will result in an out-of-service violation. DOT inspectors already know what kind of distances can be covered within a reasonable time. 

During the International Roadcheck 2019, 14.7 percent of drivers were placed out-of-service because of falsified log books.

8. No record of duty status

According to the FMCSA’s regulations (395.8a), a motor carrier must require each of its drivers to record the driver’s duty status for each 24-hour period. If a carrier fails to do so, it is considered a critical violation with a severity weight of 5 out of 10.  Inspectors are even tougher on these two violations than false log violations, with 86% resulting in out of service violations.

If a driver is not exempt from the ELD mandate, he/she will require an FMCSA-compliant Electronic Logging Device to record the duty status.

How to avoid these HOS violations

All these violations can be easily avoided with the help of an FMCSA-compliant Electronic Logging Device. ELDs can inform drivers of upcoming Hours of Service violations with timely alerts. For example , Matrix, Inc’s drivers use KeepTruckin ELD. It keeps track of a driver’s Hours of Service and notifies him or her whenever a violation is approaching. With timely alerts ahead of potential violations, drivers have ample time to plan, stop, and park their vehicles safely.

If you don’t use ELD , you can simply set reminders/ alarms . For example, to fix the 14-hour rule violation is to set an alarm. Drivers can set up an alarm that rings 14 hours after they have started their shift.  Keeping all the paperwork organized in a neat folder will also help during roadside inspections.

In summary, the penalties associated with HOS, ELD and RODS violations are increasing. Your best bet for avoiding violations is to know the rules.