What is the 11-hour rule for truckers under the HOS? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

The 11-hour rule is a crucial provision under the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in the United States. These regulations govern the maximum driving and on-duty hours for commercial truck drivers to ensure road safety, prevent fatigue-related accidents, and protect the well-being of truckers.

Under the 11-hour rule, commercial truck drivers are permitted to drive a maximum of 11 hours continuously after taking ten consecutive hours off-duty. This rule is part of the broader HOS regulations designed to prevent truckers from operating their vehicles while fatigued, which can lead to decreased attentiveness, impaired reaction times, and increased accident risks.

Key elements of the 11-hour rule include:

  • 11-Hour Driving Limit: A truck driver can drive up to 11 hours after taking ten consecutive hours of rest. The 11 hours refer to the actual time the truck is in motion, not the total time spent on duty.
  • 14-Hour Duty Limit: In addition to the 11-hour driving limit, commercial truck drivers are subject to a 14-hour duty limit. This means that drivers cannot work (drive or perform other work-related tasks) for more than 14 consecutive hours after their ten-hour rest period. Once the 14 hours have passed, the driver must take ten consecutive hours off-duty before starting their next duty shift.
  • Rest Breaks: The 11-hour rule requires truck drivers to take rest breaks to prevent fatigue. A mandatory 30-minute rest break is required after a truck driver has been on duty (including driving and non-driving tasks) for eight cumulative hours.
  • 60/70-Hour Weekly Limit: In addition to daily limits, truck drivers must adhere to a weekly limit to prevent excessive hours on the road. Under the HOS regulations, drivers are allowed a maximum of 60 hours of on-duty time over seven consecutive days or 70 hours over eight consecutive days, depending on their employer’s operating schedule. After reaching these limits, drivers must take a 34-hour restart period, which includes two consecutive nights of rest, before they can reset their weekly driving hours.

Sleeper Berth Provision

To promote flexibility, drivers can split their required rest period into two separate periods. One of the periods must be at least two hours long and spent either in the sleeper berth or off-duty. The other rest period must be at least seven consecutive hours long spent in the sleeper berth. This provision allows drivers to manage fatigue and rest according to their individual preferences and needs.

The 11-hour rule and other HOS regulations are essential tools in ensuring the safety of both truck drivers and other road users. By enforcing maximum driving and on-duty hours, these regulations aim to reduce the risks associated with driver fatigue, which can lead to accidents, injuries, and even fatalities.

To comply with the HOS regulations, truck drivers are required to keep accurate and up-to-date records of their driving and rest periods in logbooks or electronic logging devices (ELDs). These records are subject to inspection by law enforcement officers during routine roadside checks and safety audits.

It is crucial for trucking companies and truck drivers to adhere to the 11-hour rule and other HOS regulations to maintain a safe and efficient transportation industry. Understanding and following these regulations are vital steps toward enhancing road safety and promoting the well-being of truckers on the nation’s highways.