What is Hours Of Service?

Elyse Byers profile image
Elyse Byers
2 min read
September 9, 2022

First established in the 1930s, Hours of Service (HOS) regulations define the maximum on-duty and driving time for drivers, as well as mandatory rest periods. Almost all commercial carriers are required to follow these regulations, which are determined by the FMCSA.

HOS regulations aim to improve driver safety. While drivers might find these requirements inconvenient at times, they ensure that drivers are getting needed rest, which can prevent accidents and driver fatigue.

HOS regulations for property-carrying drivers include:

  • The 30-Minute Break Rule: After each 8-hour period of driving, drivers must take a break of at least 30 minutes (this can include on-duty time).
  • The 11-hour Driving Limit/14-hour Limit: Drivers must not spend more than 11 hours driving after a period of 10 hours off duty, and their on-duty time cannot be more than 14 hours. 

The last major revision to HOS rules was in 2020. You can visit the FMCSA’s website for a full list of up-to-date HOS regulations.


Who is exempt from HOS regulations?

The FMSCA has granted exemptions from certain HOS regulations to specific companies, as well as exemptions to carriers transporting certain types of cargo (such as concrete, livestock, and live bees). Many of these exemptions apply to the 30-minute driving break rule.

Click here for a full list of these specific HOS exemptions.

  • Short-Haul Exception:

Drivers who operate within 150 air-miles of their work location and spend no more than 14 hours on duty may qualify for this exemption. Drivers who qualify for this exemption do not have to keep RODS (driver logs), use an ELD, or follow the 30-minute rest break rule. 

Even with the short-haul exception, short-haul drivers are not exempt from the 14 hour workday limit.

  • Adverse Driving Conditions Exception:

This exception adds an additional 2 hours to the normal driving window when driving conditions are poor. 

How This Affects You and Your Company

HOS violations can result in fines for drivers and/or carriers, drivers being suspended and a pattern of violations can even cause a carrier to be shut down. This is not to mention the consequences of an accident resulting from an HOS violation. 

So how can you avoid HOS violations and resulting penalties? The best thing to do is first be sure that you and your drivers understand all the rules, some of which have been revised in recent years. Carriers must make sure that their drivers are educated on current HOS rules as they go on the road.

An ELD (Electronic Log Device) is a valuable tool in tracking HOS. Most carriers that are required to keep Record of Duty Status (RODS)–or driver's logs–are also required to use ELDs. An ELD can simplify the record keeping process, as well as help you and your drivers keep track of HOS exemptions and when they can be used. 

Not all ELDs are created equal. The FMCSA has specific requirements for these devices and using an ELD that does not meet them can result in hefty fines and/or put you out of service.

Truckspy offers an ELD that meets all FMCSA requirements. See if a Truckspy ELD could be right for your fleet.