Hours of Service Regulations have been around in some form since 1938. Presently, they have not changed since 2015 with the suspension of the new requirements around the 34-hour restart. We are now less than two and half months away from the ELD mandate; so, it is a good time to review the HOS regulations and how they will work with the new requirements for ELDs.

HOS Review

The following summarizes the HOS regulations for commercial truck drivers, including the total driving limit, on duty limit, rest breaks, restart information, and sleeper berth conditions.

11-Hour Driving Limit – A driver may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.

14-Hour Limit – A driver may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.

Rest Breaks – A driver may drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes.

60/70-Hour Limit (Restart) – A driver may not drive after 60 hours on duty in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours on duty in 8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

Sleeper Berth Provision – Drivers using the sleeper berth provision for their off-duty time must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.

Using ELDs

Driver and carrier accounts – A driver must have only one driver account with a carrier company, and it will have a unique identification number and password. An owner/operator must have a single account as a driver, and a separate account for administrative carrier functions (setting up user accounts, etc.).

Logging In – A driver must log into the ELD as soon as the vehicle is in motion. If they do not, the ELD device will:

  • Provide a visual or visual & audible warning reminding the driver to stop and log into the ELD;
  • Record accumulated driving and on-duty, not-driving, time in accordance with the ELD defaults, under the “Unidentified Driver” profile;
  • Not allow entry of any information into the ELD other than a response to the login prompt.

Upon logging in, a driver should review any unassigned driving time.  ELD events under the “Unidentified Driver” profile should be added to the driver’s record, or the driver should add a note describing how the unassigned hours are not his/hers.

Duty Status – An ELD records actual time for each duty status entered or automatically started. ELDs cannot be set to record minimum duty status durations, such as 15-minute intervals.

ELDs record data every hour when a vehicle is moving, and there has not been a duty status change or intermediate recording in the previous hour. ELDs use the following Duty Status categories:

  1. Driving – An ELD automatically switches to driving status once the vehicle is moving at a speed of no more than five miles per hour.
  2. On-Duty Not Driving – When the vehicle has not been in motion for five consecutive minutes, the ELD will prompt the driver to confirm driving status or enter the proper status. If the driver doesn’t respond within one minute, the ELD will automatically switch to on-duty not driving.
  3. Off-Duty – The driver should indicate off-duty status for non-driving on-duty periods or must edit and note in the Record of Duty Status (RODS) later. Periods of authorized personal use will also be considered off-duty time.
  4. Sleeper Berth – The driver should indicate sleeper berth status for sleeper berth periods or must edit and note in the Record of Duty Status (RODS) later.

Special Driving Categories 

  1. Authorized Personal Use:A driver can record periods when using a vehicle for authorized personal use. This could include time traveling between a driver’s home and terminal, and traveling short distances, such as from terminals to motels or restaurants. These periods of personal use may be considered off-duty time.

*Note: a driver who uses a vehicle for transportation home and then gets dispatched to work from home would be considered on-duty from the time the driver leaves home.

  1. Yard Moves:A driver can record periods of yard moves.
  2. Adverse Operations:A driver can annotate the record to document sudden bad weather, crashes, or other unforeseeable conditions.

Location Information – ELDs automatically record location information in relation to the nearest city, or town.  ELDs are not required to capture street addresses. And contrary to what is being said by some in the industry, if street address data is captured, it will not be transferred to law enforcement.

During on-duty periods, ELDs are required to record locations with an accuracy of approximately a 1 mile radius.

During off-duty periods (such as using a vehicle for personal use), ELDs record location with an accuracy of approximately 10 square miles, to protect driver privacy.

Logbooks vs ELDs

There are several benefits that the implementation of ELDs will provide to drivers over paper logbooks. They are the broken down by the following functions:

Function Paper Logs ELDs
Integral synchronization

(When interfaced with the vehicle engine)

N/A Yes; automatically captures whether engine is on, whether the vehicle is in motion, miles driven, engine hours
Location Information Yes (manual entry) Automatic for each change of duty status; at 60-minute intervals while vehicle is moving; at engine-on and engine-off; and at beginning and end of personal use and yard moves
Graph Grid Display Yes Presents a graph grid of driver daily duty status changes on a display or a printout
RODS Printout at Roadside N/A Choice of printout or display.
HOS Driver Advisory Messages N/A Warning of unassigned time/miles upon login.
Default Duty Status N/A Default status is “on-duty not driving” when vehicle has not been in motion for 5 consecutive minutes & driver has not responded to ELD prompt within 1 minute.
Clock Time Drift N/A UTC (coordinated universal time) synchronization – deviation cannot exceed 10 minutes at any time
Resistance to Tampering N/A Prohibits alteration or erasure of original data collected by ELD, or alteration of the source data streams used to provide that information
Identification of Sensor Failures and Edited Data N/A Monitors, records, and displays edits with annotations, as well as detectable ELD malfunctions and data inconsistencies.

So, as you can see from the table above, there are many operational effectiveness that ELDs offer to drivers. The key is to get informed, prepared, learn your device options, and give yourself plenty of time to familiarize yourself with the device of your choosing prior to the December 18 compliance date. Don’t let yourself get stuck in a situation where you will be caught in non-compliance. While citations for ELDs will not be going ahead until April, there will be more roadside checks going on for everything as of December, and the industry predicts that the out of service rate for a multitude of infractions will rise as a result.


What Drivers Need to Know About HOS Regulations Ahead of the Upcoming ELD Mandate was last modified: by