Hours-of-Service Frequently Asked Questions

The Hours of Service changes which were effective on July 1, 2013 have resulted in many questions to the Association.  The intent of this article is to help clarify the more commonly asked questions:


Question:  Is the 34 hour restart mandatory?

Answer:  No, drivers are not required to restart and may drive as long as they have available hours left in their work day and work week.  You simply recap your hours each 7 or 8 day period.


Question:  When can I begin a new 34 hour restart?

Answer:  The new restart begins 168 hours (7 days) from the start of your last restart.  So if you last started at 8 pm on Friday, you are eligible again at 8pm the following Friday.


Question:  Can I have more than 1 period of 34 consecutive hours off?

Answer:  Yes, but only 1 of the periods count toward your restart.  You must designate which one is used, and then cannot use the restart provision again until at least 168 hours have passed.


Question:  Once I’ve chosen my first 34 hour restart does my restart have to be the same period of time for ever more?

AnswerNo, the 34 hour period can change over time, but the second use of the restart must be after at least 168 hours have passed since it was first used.


Question:  My drivers work 8 to 10 hours per day and are off every Saturday and Sunday.  How will the new 34 hour restart impact my drivers?

Answer:  The 34 hour restart is not mandatory and likely your drivers will never need the restart as they have available hours of work and driving by recapping on their log.


Question:  Do I have to be at my home terminal to use the 34 hour restart?

Answer:  No, the reference to home terminal time in the rule simply requires you to maintain the log book on the east coast time zone (or home terminal time zone), which has always been the rule.  So the restart must include 2 periods of 1 am to 5am of the time at your home terminal.


Question:  My drivers drive in Maine and within 100 air miles.  Does the 30 minute rest break apply to us?

Answer:  No.  If you drive intrastate within 100 air miles, do not transport HM or further interstate commerce, you are exempt from the Hours of Service…including the rest break provision.


Question:  Does the 30 minute rest break extend my 14 hour day?

Answer:  No, the 30 minute rest break is deducted from your 14 hour window.


Question:  Do my drivers need written permission to take the 30 minute rest break?

Answer:  No, FMCSA clarified through rulemaking that written permission from the motor carrier is no longer required in order to treat time during the work day as “off-duty”.  Drivers may be off-duty if they are relieved of all responsibility for the care and custody of the truck and contents are free to pursue activities of their own choosing.  The periods of time off-duty must be at least 30 consecutive minutes.


Question:  May drivers eat meals during the 30 minute rest break?

Answer:  Yes, meal breaks of at least 30 minutes may be used as off-duty time as long as the drivers are relieved of responsibility for custody and care of the truck and contents and they are free to pursue activities of their own choosing.


Question:  May drivers be compensated during their 30 minute rest break?

AnswerThe federal regulations do not address issues of compensation between a motor carrier and driver…so yes, as long as they are free to pursue activities of their own choosing and relieved of responsibility for the truck and its cargo, they may be compensated.


Question:  Are drivers of hazmat able to remain responsible for the care and custody of the truck and contents and still take a 30 minute rest break?

Answer:  This ruling only applies to drivers transporting 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3 explosives who are required by 49 CFR 397.5 to remain in attendance of the CMV at all times.


Question:  My drivers are eligible to use the federal short haul exemption and keep time records in lieu of RODS.  Do they still have to take the 30 minute rest break?

Answer:  No.  The court over-turned the 30 minute rest break requirement for short haul drivers.  Effective August 2nd 2013 the rest break no longer is required for drivers who meet the short haul exemption.


Question:  What happens if I am a short haul driver that normally uses time records, but my day gets extended and I had not taken the 30 minute rest break?

Answer:  Once a driver is no longer eligible for the exemption, the driver must immediately fill out a ROD for the day, going back to the 1201 am.  If you have a combination of work and driving of more than 8 consecutive hours without a 30 minute rest break, you will be in violation.


Note:  FMCSA publishes a very helpful reference guide on their home page that offers drivers and motor carriers help with the HOS rules.  The guide may be downloaded from the following link:  http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/hos/Interstate-Truck-Driver-Guide-to-HOS_508.pdf


MMTA also has available an HOS workbook that is an excellent publication for drivers and motor carriers to understand the HOS rules.


As always, feel free to contact MMTA staff at 623-4128 for assistance with this or any of your compliance questions.