Curious about how long can a truck driver drive? Want to know how many hours truckers can drive in a day, drive in week, what is the 11-hour limit, and the regulations & exceptions that keep our highways safe and sound?

How many hours can truckers drive a day?

According to the FMCSA‘s hours of service (HOS) regulations, most truck drivers can drive for a maximum of 11 hours a day. 

Drivers have a 14-hour time limit to drive for up to 11 hours. According to the 14-hour rule, drivers cannot be on duty 14 straight hours unless they take a 10-hour break. 14-hour window includes both on-duty and drive time.

How many hours can a truck driver drive a week?

Truckers are allowed to drive for a maximum of 60 hours over seven days or 70 hours over eight days as per the FMCSA. Once you hit these limits, you need to take 34 hours of rest until you start driving again. 

For instance, if you start driving on Monday and reach the 60-hour limit by the following Sunday, you can’t drive anymore until the next week begins. Similarly, if you start on Monday and reach the 70-hour limit by the following Monday, then you need to take a 34 hour break before driving again. This time can be spent off-duty, in a sleeper berth, or a mix of both. After this rest, your hours for the period will start from zero.

How many hours can a truck driver drive a week

Rest Breaks

A mandatory 30-minute break becomes necessary after 8 hours of continuous driving. This allows drivers to refresh themselves, indulge in a meal, or simply take a moment to unwind. However, drivers who qualify for exceptions in short-haul operations are not obligated to follow the rest break rule.

How long can a truck driver drive?

Who does it apply to?

Commercial vehicles engaged in interstate commerce that meet any of the following criteria must adhere to the Hours of Service (HOS):

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more, including their cargo 
  • Has a gross vehicle weight/ combination weight of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Transports hazardous materials that require placards

Exceptions

1. Adverse Driving Conditions Exception

If road conditions slow you down, you can drive for an extra 2 hours, extending your daily limit to 13 hours. It covers unforeseen obstacles like snow or fog but not predictable traffic. In such conditions, you can stick to the 14-hour window and 30-minute break rule.

2. Non-CDL Short-Haul Exception

Certain individuals driving short distances can extend their driving time from 14 to 16 hours under the non-CDL short-haul exception. You can do this for two days within a seven-day period or after a 34-hour restart. This exception removes the need for a 30-minute rest break.

To qualify, you must operate trucks that don’t require commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs).You must also travel within a 150-air-mile radius of your regular workplace and return there each day. 

3. 16-Hour Short-Haul Exception

Drivers who regularly return home at the end of each day may qualify for the 16-hour short-haul exception. This exception, similar to the non-CDL short-haul exception, extends the driving window from 14 to 16 hours but can only be used once within a seven-day period. To qualify, drivers must go off duty within 16 hours of starting their shift. Those eligible for the non-CDL short-haul exception cannot use the 16-hour short-haul exception.

Let’s consider you start your shift at 6 a.m. and finish at 6 p.m., returning home each night. With the 16-hour short-haul exception, you can now extend your driving hours until 8 p.m. once within a seven-day period. However, you must keep track of your usage of this exception, as it can only be applied only once a week.

The four driver log duty statuses

The Record of Duty Status (RODS), or driver log, tracks how truck drivers spend their time on the road to ensure they comply with set limits. It reports four driver duty statuses, they are

Off duty (Line 1): This includes all the time when the driver is engaged in other activities like having a meal, exercising, being at home, or relaxing at a truck stop.

Sleeper berth (Line 2): This covers the time spent by the driver in their sleeper berth.

Driving (Line 3): This includes the time the driver spends operating the commercial motor vehicle (CMV).

On duty not driving (Line 4): This involves tasks like loading/unloading freight, conducting pre-trip inspections, training other drivers, and fueling.

How long can a truck driver drive?

Summary

RegulationsDetails
11 hour ruleCan drive for a maximum of 11 hours within that 14 hour window
14 hour ruleNot allowed to drive for more than 14 hours straight after reporting for duty after 10 hours off
30 minutes breakDrivers must take a 30 minute break after 8 hours of continuous driving
60/70 hour ruleCannot drive after reaching 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. You must take a 34 hour break before driving again

If you are an owner operator, our latest blog on how to buy a semi truck as an owner operator can come handy. Give it a go, if you are interested.

Yoga Laxmi
Social Media Marketer at OpenFR8 | More posts

I am copyright writer with OpenFR8. I take a little bit of time to complete my blogs because I undergo research and analysis of each and every article to gather accurate information. For me, writing is not just a job; it feeds my creativity and desire to share insightful information with readers. As a writer, I like to present content that is valuable and easily understood by every individual. I believe in the power of words, and if they are used in a good manner, they can create many positive changes around us.

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