Here’s How to Avoid Common Hours of Service Violations

There are regulations truck drivers must follow be to compliant on the road. Hopefully, this isn’t news to anyone reading this, but hours of service violations happen all the time.

Well guess what? They are incredibly easy to avoid. 

To maintain compliance and ensure safe practices on the road, new and long-time truck drivers alike must be informed and stay up to date on all regulations outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). 

So what are these common hours of service violations and how can you avoid them? Let’s take a quick look. 

What are Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations?

Safety inspections are unavoidable and commercial truck drivers must be prepared, especially when it comes to hours of service (HOS) regulations. All carriers and drivers must abide by the HOS regulations outlined in section 49 CFR 395 of FMCSA guidelines

The FMCSA guidelines state that hours of service “refers to the maximum amount of time drivers are permitted to be on duty including drive time, and specifies number and length of rest periods, to help ensure drivers stay awake and alert.”

The regulations prevent drivers from operating a vehicle when they are too tired. Long stretches on the road are unsafe and put both the driver and public at risk. The FMCSA put these guidelines in place to safeguard against fatigued drivers. 

Penalties for failure to maintain compliance can involve your driver losing his/her license as well as huge fines for your fleet. In fact, the FMCSA actually assigns your fleet an overall Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) score. Each violation is given a number of HOS violation points, depending on the severity of the offense. Naturally, each violation brings down your fleet’s overall score, helping the FMCSA to identify high-risk carriers and dangerous drivers. 

Therefore, maintaining a good CSA score will directly affect your business opportunities. Think of it as your version of Yelp reviews. You need your drivers to remain compliant so your score stays high and your business remains reputable. This protects the health of your business while ensuring safety on the road. 

To keep your fleet running smoothly, here are the common hours of service violations to avoid.

1. Don’t Let Drivers Operate Past Defined Driving Limits

The most common hours of service violation is operating beyond the on-duty driving limits set forth by the FMCSA.

The FMCSA has driving limits in place for both property-carrying and passenger-carrying drivers. Property-carrying drivers are allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours after they have been off duty for 10 consecutive hours. Passenger-carrying drivers can drive 10 hours after the same 10 hour rest period. The key word here is driving — these limits refer specifically to driving time, which is defined as the actual time spent driving a vehicle. On-duty has its own set of limits (see next list item).

2. Also Understand Your Drivers’ On-duty Limits

The FMCSA has separate limits for on-duty time. This refers to the time when a driver begins work until they are relieved from work or no longer required to perform their duties. This includes cumulative driving time, breaks, and stops. 

Property-carrying drivers must adhere to the 14-hour rule, which means drivers cannot drive past their 14th consecutive hour on duty. Passenger-carrying drivers have a 15-hour duty period limit after eight consecutive hours on duty.  

But there is an exception! The adverse driving conditions exemption. In adverse driving conditions, including snow, ice, sleet, and fog, drivers may extend their limits by up to two hours. However, operating past duty limits is just as severe a violation as drive time, with serious consequences and large fines. 

3. Adhere to Weekly Limits

Beyond daily regulations, drivers also must adhere to limits set over the course of many days. Property-carrying and passenger-carrying drivers both cannot drive after 60 hours on duty over seven consecutive days OR 70 hours on duty in eight straight days. Drivers can begin another 60 or 70-hour cycle after they take a minimum of 34 consecutive hours off duty. 

4. Accurately Report Duty Status

Of course, there is the temptation to just fib the numbers a little bit. But drivers must keep up-to-date records that are entirely accurate in order to be compliant. The FMCSA says that motor carriers must ensure that each driver maintains an accurate log of duty status for each 24-hour period. Drivers must accurately record their hours to avoid violations. 

 It might seem easy to lie, but logbook violation fines are severe and will also have a significant impact on CSA scores. Not to mention, it may cost your driver his/her license. 

5. Don’t Falsify Driving Logs

As we mentioned above, there is the temptation to falsify records. Messing up HOS logs is a huge mistake, but knowingly falsifying logs is another matter. 

Maintaining compliance is an absolute must — especially now that drives log time with electronic logging devices instead of the old paper log books. These ELDs are much trickier to falsify. Thankfully for drivers, electronic logging is much faster and easier, effectively removing annoying paperwork from their duties. 

Summary

As you can see, there are several ways your drivers can violate their hours of service requirements. With proper education and training, it’s incredibly easy to help them maintain accurate records and safely stay on the road. 

If you’re interested in ways to monitor your fleet on the road more closely, Vestige has the solutions you’re looking for. Our fleet AI cameras and tracking provide you with real-time monitoring and historical trip details to ensure your drivers are performing their duties safely. 

You’ll detect and prevent dangerous driving behaviors and save your company money in the process. Contact us to learn more or request a demo today. 

 

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