Most truck drivers are well-aware of the demands of the job. Indeed, driving a commercial motor vehicle is incredibly tough and demanding, not the least of which involves long hours on the road behind the wheel. To that end, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extensive regulations regarding Hours of Service (HOS). As a truck driver, it’s important to follow the guidelines set by these regulations.
Fleet Drug Testing has a team of experts ready to address your DOT regulation questions and can enroll you in one of our consortium programs to ensure compliance. Contact us today to begin the process.
Understanding FMCSA Rule 395
Rule 395 houses specific regulations within the FMCSA’s broader set of rules governing the hours of service (HOS) for operators of commercial motor vehicles (CMV), including truck drivers. The purpose of Rule 395 is to:
- Set guidelines for the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) and recordkeeping to track drivers’ hours of service.
In order to better understand them, are some key points of Rule 395:
- ELD mandates – Rule 395 requires commercial motor vehicle operators to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) to record their hours of service instead of traditional paper logbooks. ELDs are designed to automate and improve the accuracy of recording drivers’ duty status and driving hours.
- Hours of Service compliance – ELDs help make sure that drivers comply with FMCSA’s hours of service regulations, which dictate things like:
- A limit of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off-duty.
- Drivers may not be on duty, which includes driving and other work-related activities, for more than 14 hours following 10 consecutive hours off-duty.
- A 30-minute break if they have driven for 8 cumulative hours without a break.
- A maximum of 60 hours on duty in a 7-day period or 70 hours in an 8-day period, depending on their employer’s operations.
- If a driver reaches the 60/70-hour limit, they must take at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty before starting a new 7/8-day period.
- A “sleeper berth” to rest must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours off-duty or in the sleeper berth.
- Recording and reporting – ELDs automatically record driving time, on-duty time, and off-duty time. They also generate detailed reports that can be easily reviewed and audited by both drivers and law enforcement.
- Exceptions and exemptions – While Rule 395 primarily mandates ELD use, there are exceptions and exemptions for specific types of drivers and situations. These exceptions may apply to short-haul drivers, agricultural operators, and others.
Obviously, these rules are in place to make sure that you and other drivers are well-rested and not fatigued while driving. At the same time, ELD use makes the recording process automated and takes much of the burden off of you to keep a log of your hours. Despite these advantages, the pressure of performing can sometimes lead to violations.
What Happens If There are Violations of FMCSA Rule 395?
As an official regulation, violating FMCSA Rule 395 is going to carry stiff penalties for both you and your employer. Much like violations of the DOT and FMCSA’s drug testing program, violating hours of service and reporting rules could mean that you lose your CDL and income. Moreover, Rule 395 is in place to make sure that drivers are well-rested and not fatigued while they’re driving, which keeps everyone safe. Violating this rule can have the following consequences:
- Penalties and fines – Violations of HOS regulations can result in fines and penalties for both drivers and their employers. The specific penalties can vary depending on the severity and frequency of the violations. For example, drivers may face fines for exceeding daily driving limits or failing to take required rest breaks.
- Removal from service – In some cases, particularly for severe violations that pose an immediate safety risk, law enforcement can issue out-of-service orders. This means that the driver and the CMV may not be operated until the violation is corrected. The length of the out-of-service order can vary based on the nature of the violation.
- Impacted safety ratings – Violations are recorded in the driver’s and carrier’s records, which can impact their safety rating. This can result in increased scrutiny from law enforcement and regulatory authorities during inspections.
- Disqualification – Repeated or severe HOS violations can lead to the disqualification of a driver’s commercial driver’s license (CDL), meaning they are no longer eligible to operate a CMV. This can have a significant impact on a driver’s career.
- Increased costs – Carriers may face higher insurance premiums if their drivers have a history of HOS violations, as it indicates higher risk.
- Legal consequences – In cases where HOS violations result in accidents, injuries, or fatalities, drivers and their employers can face legal liabilities and potential lawsuits.
Count on Fleet Drug Testing for Compliance
Your vehicle is vital to your business. Whether you’re an owner-operator or part of a larger company, Fleet Drug Testing has the expertise and tools to keep you informed about federal and state regulations when it comes to driving a CMV.
To learn more about our programs and what we can do for you, contact us today.