HOS (Hours of Service)

Hours of Service (HOS) regulations govern the maximum amount of time commercial drivers can drive and work. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces these rules to reduce accidents caused by driver fatigue. Compliance with HOS rules is crucial for safety and avoiding fines.

Key HOS Rules

  1. 11-Hour Driving Limit: A driver can only drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  2. 14-Hour Limit: A driver cannot drive past the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 hours off duty.
  3. 30-Minute Break: Drivers must take a 30-minute break if 8 hours have passed since their last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes.
  4. 60/70-Hour Limit: Drivers cannot drive after 60 hours on duty in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours on duty in 8 consecutive days. This clock resets after 34 consecutive hours off duty.

Driver Logs

Drivers must maintain accurate logs of their hours. They can use either paper logs or electronic logging devices (ELDs). ELDs automatically record driving time and monitor engine hours, vehicle movement, and location.

Violations and Penalties

Non-compliance can lead to severe penalties. Common violations include exceeding driving limits and not taking required breaks. Employers must also ensure their drivers adhere to HOS rules or face penalties themselves.


Certain drivers qualify for exceptions to HOS rules:

  • Short-Haul Exception: Drivers staying within a 150 air-mile radius and returning to their work reporting location within 14 hours don’t need to maintain a log but must stay under 11 hours of driving.
  • Adverse Driving Conditions: Drivers can extend their driving window by up to 2 hours under adverse driving conditions like weather or traffic.
  • Sleeper Berth Provision: Drivers using sleeper berths can split their required 10 hours off duty in two periods, as long as neither is less than 2 hours.

Managing Fatigue

Owner-operators must strictly follow HOS rules to manage fatigue. Taking breaks, getting adequate sleep, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle contribute to safety and performance on the road.

Understanding these rules and the importance of compliance helps owner-operators maintain safety standards, avoid penalties, and ensure a sustainable operation in the trucking industry.