Understanding truck driver off duty time is essential if you plan to become a truck driver or you want to extend your current truck driving role. You may have a lot of questions about being a truck driver and in this article, we’re going to cover the one’s about sleep and off duty time ideas.
Truck drivers have a lot to consider if they plan to drive long distances. Being on the road for that long comes with a set of DOT rules that all truck drivers need to follow to be safe and healthy while they are on the job. It’s vital to understand truck driver off duty time as much as on duty time, which includes hours of rest required, hours you can drive and what to do after hours.
It's one of the biggest questions that truck drivers ask: How many hours do I sleep? It makes sense, especially given that most of the driving is done through the night for some jobs. If you plan to make long-haul trips, you need to learn how to get the rest that you need to maintain your safety on the road. Sleep deprivation is a killer and if you aren't getting enough rest, you shouldn't be behind the wheel.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states that all drivers have to be stopped from driving after 11 hours after being off duty for 10 hours. All drivers must also refrain from being active on the roads beyond the 14th hour after coming back to being on duty. This includes any time spent unloading, fueling, pre-trips and post-trips. It's these rules that make life easier for long-distance drivers to get the rest they need.
Every single driver needs to ensure that they are getting the adequate rest they need so that they are safe enough to drive. The National Sleep Foundation states that adults need around 7 hours of sleep to be fully rested for driving. Since fatigue is the main factor of more than 30 percent of fatal-to-the-driver crashes, adequate rest is very important.
The 14-hour consecutive rule for truck drivers was brought in to prevent drivers from being on the road past the time when fatigue becomes a severe issue. Off duty does count towards a driver’s 14 hours, as it extends the work consecutive days beyond that fatigue limit.
While a driver is loading and unloading, they must log this time as on duty according to FMCSA rules. It doesn't matter whether a driver is on the clock physically, or whether they are assisting or even if they are just watching the loading happen. They must log it on duty. The only time you are allowed to not be on duty is if you have disconnected from the trailer and you are leaving the customers' property.
Official truck driver consecutive hours off duty time starts when you can shut down and walk away from the truck to do something else. Any waiting at a shipper or a receiver means that you get acquainted with in-truck entertainment.
We mentioned the 14-hour rule earlier on in this article and it’s a rule set forth to protect drivers and others on the road. When drivers come back to duty after taking 10 hours off, their next drive and tasks have to be completed in a 14-hour window. You cannot drive after that 14-hour window is completed, but you can be “on duty” for administrative tasks. It’s only a violation if you are driving. As of September 29th, all drivers will be able to pause their 14-hour on duty clock for several hours per shift. This has come under the new split-sleeper berth options that the U.S. DOT has put forward in their service rule update.
This is a significant change in the previous rules and unlike the current regulations, the chance to have breaks will not count against the 14-hour on duty time. It’s essential that all fleets are studying this rule and learning how to use the changes. The rules are always going to be complicated, so training is a must for people to understand the revisions that they must take to have successful drivers!
If any drivers want to split any duty day they have, they have to take a split of seven hours and then another split of at least two hours. The breaks must total 10 hours and these are the minimums as enforced by compliance. These breaks will not stop the 14-hour on duty clock at all. Under the new HOS rule, breaks can run longer than the split that adds up to 10 hours and if the length of either of the breaks in any of the splits go a full 10 hours, drivers are allowed to reset their 14-hour clock.
There has been a rule published in the last week that states that the hours of service (HOS) have been updated to increase safety on the roadways of America. This has come from the FMCSA. While truckers are on the road keeping supply chains open during COVID-19, the new rules are changed to keep America moving forward while keeping truckers as safe as possible. The new proposed rule was published in 2019 and received over 2,000 public comments before benign passed. The comments and the input from the public have led the final regulations to have four revisions in total. These include:
The new conditions and rule changes allow for extra flexibility for long haul drivers, and for drivers who encounter unexpected driving conditions. Truckers are a necessity - now more than ever - and the FMCSA has provided the relief that commercial drivers have needed to get medical supplies, household goods, food and other supplies to those in need. Truck drivers need to be able to rest on the road. The new hours of service rules are there to protect truck drivers and keep them safe.
There are some common misconceptions about on duty and truck driver off duty time and sleeper-berth time. We've put together some of the most frequently asked questions to the FMCSA concerning their hours of service rules.
Off duty does not equal sleeper. It's a common misunderstanding among truck drivers, as when they see that off duty and sleeper applied to their 10-hour break, they believe that these are interchangeable. Sleeper berth refers to the driver resting, but not necessarily sleeping, in the sleeper-berth areas of their truck. Truck driver off duty time refers to the time spent on relief from work and released from all work responsibilities. If you are on off duty time, you need to make sure that you are not in the sleeper-berth of the unit. The FMCSA states that drivers in the sleeper berth and off duty are risking being found in non-compliance. It's either an inaccurate log form or a manner violation.
If you have to be on a site, you are on duty. The regulations back in 2012 said that drivers could log time spent resting in a parked vehicle as being off duty. The official FMCSA hours of service rules today state that the following is considered as on-duty time:
If an auditor or inspector attends your truck and sees you in the truck when you could have left the facility, you shouldn't be logging as off duty.
You should only ever log sleeper-berth time when you are in the sleeper-berth. You can log time as sleeper-berth at any time you are resting in the sleeper-berth compartment of the unit. You cannot log any time as sleeper-berth time if you are not in that compartment so remember to log everything you do accurately.
Any time that is all the time a driver starts work or is required to be ready to work, until they are relieved from work, is considered to be on duty. Any on duty time - as stated by the FMCSA - has to include the following:
It’s important to note that when you are on duty, you must not be asleep or resting without being on your scheduled breaks.
We've gone over a lot of the rules for on duty status and what it means, but it's essential to know what the official DOT rules and regulations are for your safety. The DOT rules are in place to ensure that everyone on the road is safe around large carrier vehicles and that all those driving said vehicles are maintaining their own health and safety. The rules have to be studied and followed at all times, and if you are driving, these rules should have been put forward to you by your employer. You must know what the DOT requirements are, so here are some of the most important regulations:
These are just a couple of the rules set forth by the DOT. Your carrier should put you through training to ensure that you are aware of all of the working limits, the break limits, how to log your hours correctly when you are on duty, and how to avoid fatigue while you are on the road. There are dozens of other regulations that must be adhered to if you want to remain safe on the road and driving legally.
All CDL drivers are bound by the regulations set forth by the FMCSA. The hours of service regulations apply to each driver, and even if you are only driving within a single state, they apply to the driver too.
The hours of service requirements are often identical to state law. There are three maximum limits for being on duty:
Driving windows are the maximum amount of hours a CDL driver can drive before they take a 10 hour rest period. Although you have this window, you mustn't drive continuously in these 14 hours. You have to take a break of 30 minutes every 8 hours, and the rest break counts as part of that 14-hour window. The rolling weekly limit can be confusing for new drivers. It means that in this set period of time, these are the total hours that you are allowed to work. Once you have hit the limit, you can do other work involved in the company, but you cannot drive. The rules do allow companies to have a 34-hour restart as we mentioned earlier. If you are off for 34 hours in a row, you can restart to zero and drive again.
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