How Many Hours Is a Truck Driver Allowed To Drive?

Truck drivers are governed by Hours of Service regulations. If you haul any cargo to another state, country or even if you only drive within a single state, you fall under federal Hours of Service regulations.

A new truck driver can wonder, “How many hours can I drive?” Some truck drivers like to pull long hours on the road, not only enjoying the sense of freedom, but trying to earn a lot of money. Driving for many hours can lead to very serious risks.

Let’s Ask the FMCSA

Not only transporting the freight, that keeps the country running smoothly, is important for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration but safety on the roads also. That’s why a truck driver is allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours in a day.

This rule was implemented to prevent driver fatigue. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “drowsy driving” can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. As they state being awake for 18 hours makes you drive like you have a blood alcohol level of .05 (.08 is considered drunk). So you will have poor reaction, impaired decision making, and tunnel vision. Such state can lead to the hazards on the road, put your life and other drivers’ lives at risk. So it’s important to abide by this time frame.

The Hours-of-Service Limits

The FMCSA implemented the 11 hour limit as a part of their hours-of-service regulations. There are a few basic rules for commercial motor vehicle drivers. You have to follow 3 maximum duty limits at all times:

  • The 14 hour driving window limit dictates the maximum length for your “work day.” A 14 hour window means that you are allowed to drive up to 11 hours, but if you’ve been off for a minimum of 10 consecutive hours before. The 14 hours begins once you start any kind of work, not only driving. If you take a break or a nap, the 14 hour time limit doesn’t stop. Once the 14 hours is ended, you have to rest for 10 or more hours before driving again.
  • The 11 hour driving limit is the official limit for how many hours truck drivers can operate a vehicle within 14 hours. But it’s illegal to drive those 11 hours consecutively. So a truck driver is allowed to drive a maximum of 8 hours straight (within the 14 hour window), and after it they are required to take a minimum 30 minute break before they resume.
  • The 60 hour/7 day and 70 hour/8 day limit is based on a “rolling” 7 or 8 day period but not on the days of the week. So, you are allowed to drive a maximum of 60 hours in 7 days and 70 hours in 8 days. By law, you have to follow 1 of these 2 limits. At the end of this period, you are required to take at least 34 hours off-duty before you can resume driving.

Who Should Comply With These Regulations?

A driver of a commercial motor vehicle, involved in interstate commerce, must comply with the FMCSA’s regulations.

A CMV is defined as a truck or a tractor-trailer with a trailer that:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more, including the load.
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or a gross combined weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more.
  • Transports enough hazardous materials to require placards.

The transportation of cargo between two or more states is called Interstate commerce. The cargo, leaving the distributor, is considered interstate commerce until it’s delivered to its destination.

So, you have to comply with the FMCSA hours-of-service regulations, if your truck meets these weight or cargo requirements, and you transport cargo between more than one state.

Additional Useful Information

Also you are required to complete a daily driver’s log to keep track of your time. Your log must include information about all 24 hours of each day, and you must leave nothing out.

To be sure you comply with the federal regulations, your truck driver’s log will be checked by government inspectors regularly. Presenting a falsified or incomplete log could lead to fines, suspensions, or even the loss of your CDL.

New Sound Truck Driving School teaches you everything you need to know about these strict regulations, how to keep logs and comply with federal regulations. Our truck driving school will give you the tools to be a safe, confident, and skillful driver.