Understanding the Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations

Posted 8 Mar 2024

Since the 1930’s, Hours of Service (HOS) regulations have continuously evolved to adapt to changing circumstances, improve road safety, and meet the growing needs of the transportation industry.

Governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in the United States, these regulations play a crucial role in ensuring safety and efficiency within the transportation industry. The FMCSA impose limits on the maximum amount of time commercial drivers can spend behind the wheel and mandate adequate rest periods to improve road safety and prevent fatigue-related accidents among commercial drivers.

According to a report by the FMSCA, crashes involving large trucks resulted in 4,479 fatalities in 2019 alone. These statistics highlight the importance of Hours of Service compliance in safeguarding both drivers and other road users. As the transportation landscape continues to evolve, understanding and adhering to HOS regulations remains paramount for fleet managers to mitigate risks and promote safer roads.

Maximum driving time limits for Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) operators


  • 11-hour driving limit – restricts CMV drivers to 11 hours of driving after 10 consecutive hours off-duty
  • 14-hour on-duty limit – which mandates that a driver cannot operate a CMV beyond 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty
  • 30-minute rest break is required after 8 hours of driving
  • 60/70-hour duty limits driving to 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days, followed by a mandatory 34-hour restart
  • Sleeper berth provision allows for a split in the 10-hour off-duty time, with at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and an additional off-duty period of at least 2 hours or more
  • All hours must be logged in Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to ensure accurate recording and monitoring of HOS compliance. These are now mandatory for most CMV’s


However, there are some exceptions to the rule. Short-haul, adverse driving conditions, and agricultural exemptions provide flexibility for specific drivers and operations.

Short-haul exemptions apply to local delivery drivers within a 100 air-mile radius. This allows them to bypass certain Hours of Service (HOS) regulations if they return within 12 hours, maintain specific driving and rest times, and keep accurate records.

In adverse driving conditions, like heavy snowfall for example, drivers can extend their driving window by up to 2 hours to ensure safety without penalty.

Agricultural exemptions provide flexibility for farmers transporting livestock during peak seasons, ensuring both animal welfare and farm productivity are maintained.

Challenges for Fleet Managers with HOS Compliance

Complying with HOS regulations poses numerous challenges for commercial drivers and fleet managers. These include managing tight delivery schedules, navigating through daily obstacles like traffic congestion and adverse weather, coping with unforeseen delays, maintaining meticulous record-keeping and most importantly, managing driver fatigue and well-being.

Resolving these challenges requires a comprehensive approach integrating communication, technology, route management strategies, and ongoing training to prioritize safety while optimizing operational efficiency. Let’s delve into this in more detail.

Best Practices to Comply with HOS Regulations

First and foremost, effective communication between drivers and fleet managers is paramount. Additionally, detailed driver journey planning, which involves anticipating potential delays and allocating sufficient time for rest breaks, is of utmost importance.

Utilizing advanced technology, such as Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) and fleet management software is not only mandatory, it also simplifies the process of monitoring and tracking driving time, rest breaks, and other compliance data, enhancing accuracy and efficiency.

Regular training and fostering a supportive work environment that recognizes and addresses drivers’ concerns regarding fatigue and workload contributes to overall compliance and safety performance.

Integrating these best practices not only ensures HOS compliance, it also promotes driver well-being, creating a positive work environment.

Benefits of Complying with HOS Regulations

Firstly, by ensuring drivers receive adequate rest and limiting consecutive driving hours, companies significantly reduce the risk of fatigue-related accidents, thereby promoting road safety for both drivers and other road users.

Secondly, compliance with HOS regulations facilitates efficient management of driving schedules and rest periods, improving productivity and minimizing disruptions caused by violations or accidents.

And finally, adherence to HOS regulations ensures that companies meet legal requirements, fostering a safety-first culture and building trust with customers, regulatory authorities, and the public. This commitment to compliance maintains the company’s reputation and credibility within the industry.

Failure to comply with HOS Regulations

Failure to comply with HOS regulations can have serious consequences, including hefty fines, legal liabilities and operational disruptions such as delays in deliveries. This can lead to a loss of business as customers may lose trust in unreliable providers.

Don’t risk your company’s reputation and financial stability. Simplify HOS compliance and enhance your fleet operations by getting in touch with a member of our team today.