What the Department of Transportation’s Hours Limit Means for Truck Drivers

This year, the Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) put a regulation in place that limits the number of hours a truck driver may drive each day, as well as a weekly limit. There are separate regulations for drivers who carry goods and those who carry passengers.

At Dot Transportation, Inc. (DTI), we want to ensure our drivers are safe and follow the rules that are in place. In the hopes of eliminating any confusion, we have provided additional information on what these updated regulations mean for our drivers.

What is the Reasoning Behind the Hours Limit?

The D.O.T. created these guidelines in order to enhance the safety of both truck drivers and others out on the road by making sure drivers are getting the rest they need.

What Are the Guidelines?

There are many guidelines that drivers must follow:

  • Each work week begins after the last legal reset. For example, if a driver begins at 6 a.m. on a Tuesday, then their 168-hour work week continues until 6 a.m. the next Tuesday.
  • Drivers can work a maximum of 60 hours on-duty over seven consecutive days.
  • Drivers can be on duty for up to 14 hours after being off-duty for 10 hours—but they will be limited to 11 hours of actual driving time.
  • The 14-hour duty period cannot be lengthened with off-duty time for breaks and stops.
  • Drivers can only restart the 7-day period once every 168-hour work week. And they must take at least 34 consecutive hours off with two consecutive periods of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Any period of 34-consecutive hours off-duty will restart the 168-hour week.

What Are the Exceptions?

There are two exceptions to the new hours limit: the 16-Hour Exception and the Adverse Driving Conditions Exception. These two may not be used in combination with one another.

16-Hour Exception

  • Drivers on a one-day work schedule can be on duty for 16 hours, as long as that individual begins and ends at the same terminal.
  • Drive time is restricted to a maximum of 11 hours.
  • If a driver has a layover, the 16-hour exception cannot be used (this includes the day of the layover).
  • Drivers who have used the 16-hour exception cannot use it again until his or her next 34-hour reset.
  • Drivers are not allowed to drive past the 16th hour when coming on duty.

Adverse Driving Conditions Exception

  • If a driver is unable to safely complete the run within the maximum 11-hour driving time, they may drive up to 2 more hours to reach the location. A driver, however, cannot drive after the 14th hour since coming on duty.
  • If weather conditions restrict a driver from reaching a hotel or rest top to pause for 10 hours off-duty, then they can extend their drive time by a maximum of two hours.
  • The adverse driving conditions exception doesn’t mean that a driver can work longer due to bad weather.

What Are the Penalties?

If drivers do not follow the new restrictions, there are multiple penalties they could incur for his or her violations.

  • Drivers may be placed on roadside shutdown until they have accumulated enough off-duty time to be back in compliance.
  • Law enforcement officials (state and/or local) may assess fines.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) may impose civil penalties on a driver or carrier, from $1,000 to $11,000 per violation depending on the severity of the violation.
  • A carrier’s safety rating may be downgraded if there has been a pattern of violations.
  • Federal criminal penalties can be brought against carriers who have knowingly and willfully allowed/required violations.

These new regulations may take some getting used to, but as the industry changes, it’s important for drivers to be in the know. Whether it’s discussing our culture of speed or winter driving tips, DTI is committed to giving drivers valuable safety information that they can take with them on the road.