Guides / A Deep Dive into Hours-of-Service Rules / Common driver and HOS violations.

Common driver and HOS violations.

Commercial vehicles are subject to regular inspections. If the driver or vehicle is out of compliance in some way, the driver or fleet could be subject to a written warning or a fine. If the issue is serious enough, the driver or vehicle can immediately be placed out of service. These are considered HOS violations.

In 2021, state and federal agencies performed nearly 3 million roadside inspections, and around 21% of vehicles were placed out of service

5 common driver and HOS violations

To avoid being placed out of service, drivers must always be prepared for safety inspections, and understand the most common driver and HOS violations. Let’s take a look at the top five violations.

1. Operating past 14 hours on duty

According to the FMCSA’s hours-of-service rules, “a [property-carrying] driver may drive only 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty. The driver may not drive after the end of the 14-consecutive-hour period without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.”

If a driver operates past 14 hours on duty, that’s considered a critical violation of 395.3(a)(2). The average fine for this violation is $7,322.

For passenger-carrying drivers, the limit is 15 cumulative hours.

2. Driving over 60/70 hours in 7/8 days

According to 395.3(b), a driver may not drive after 60 hours on duty in seven consecutive days, applicable for carriers that don’t operate every day of the week, or 70 hours on duty in eight consecutive days, for carriers that do operate every day of the week.

Violating 395.3(b) is considered a critical HOS violation with a severity weight of up to seven points and an average fine of $4,787. The top recorded fine for violating 395.3(b)1 is $21,780.

The 7/8 consecutive day period can be restarted if the driver takes 34 or more consecutive hours off duty. A thorough understanding of the 34-hour restart rule and the 60-hour/seven-day and 70-hour/eight-day limit can allow commercial motor vehicle drivers to restart their cycle and get back on the road quicker.

Learn more about the 34-hour restart rule here. Drivers can take the 34-hour break with the Motive App in two simple steps, reducing the risk of this HOS violation.

3. No record of duty status

According to the FMCSA’s regulations (395.8a), a motor carrier must require each of its drivers to record the driver’s duty status for each 24-hour period. If a carrier fails to do so, it’s considered a critical violation with a severity weight of five out of 10.

Recordkeeping HOS violations are subject to a maximum penalty of $1,270 per day, up to $12,695. If a driver isn’t exempt from the ELD mandate, they’ll require an FMCSA-registered electronic logging device to record the duty status. There are, however, some exceptions.

For instance, drivers who qualify for the 100-air-mile radius exemption [as per 49 CFR 395.1(e)(1)] and 150-air-mile radius exemption [as per 49 CFR 395.1(e)(2)] aren’t required to keep record of duty status (RODS). However, they must keep accurate time records for six months.

The time records must contain the following information:

  • The time the driver reports for duty each day
  • The total number of hours the driver is on duty each day
  • The time the driver is released from duty each day
  • The total time for the preceding seven days in accordance with Section 395.8(j)

For more information on a driver’s record of duty status and supporting documentation, click here.

If you’re interested in learning more about HOS exemptions, check out this article, 4 hours-of-service exemptions drivers and fleet managers should know.

4. False logs

Falsification of logs is a common driver violation that regularly appears as one of the top three violations during the annual International Roadcheck. 

Falsifying logs is a critical violation that can put drivers out of service. This driver violation has a severity weight of seven. According to the updated penalty schedule, knowingly falsifying records may lead to a penalty of up to $13,072.

During the International Roadcheck 2022, of all drivers placed out of service in the U.S. and Canada, 42% were due to falsified logbooks.

5. Wrong class license

The wrong class license violation is more common than many people think.

During the International Roadcheck 2022, wrong class license was the second most frequent violation. Around 23% of drivers were placed out of service because of this violation. 

There are multiple types of driver licenses:

  • CDL Class A: It’s required for drivers who operate any combination of CMVs with a gross combination weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, provided the towed vehicle is heavier than 10,000 pounds.
  • CDL Class B: It’s required to operate a CMV with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or tow a vehicle not heavier than 10,000 pounds.
  • CDL Class C: It’s required to operate a CMV designed to transport 16 or more people, including the driver, or to transport hazardous materials, as defined under federal law.

Fines for commercial driver’s license violations may be up to $5,902.

Driver and HOS violations, and International Roadcheck

Now that we’ve identified some common driver and HOS violations let’s see how often these violations surfaced during International Roadcheck.

During the International Roadcheck 2022, the top three driver violations categories in the U.S. and Canada were:

  1. False logs: 42.6% of drivers were placed out of service.
  2. Wrong class license: 23.6% of drivers were placed out of service.
  3. Hours of service: 8.1% of drivers were placed out of service.

How to avoid driver and HOS violations

All these driver and HOS violations could have easily been avoided if the driver used an FMCSA-registered electronic logging device (ELD). ELDs can inform drivers of upcoming Hours of Service violations with timely alerts.

For example, the Motive ELD keeps track of a driver’s Hours of Service and notifies them whenever a violation is approaching. With timely alerts ahead of potential violations, drivers have ample time to plan, stop, and park their vehicles safely.

HOS cheat sheet

Avoiding driver and HOS violations can save your fleet time and money. Your drivers can stay up to date with our HOS cheat sheet.

1. Know your cycle

Driving cycles depend on how many days of the week your carrier operates. If your carrier operates every day of the week, you’re eligible to operate under the 70-hour/eight-day cycle, which limits a driver to 70 on-duty hours over any eight-day period.

If your carrier operates for fewer than seven days in a week, you’re eligible to operate under the 60-hour/seven-day cycle, which limits a driver to 60 on-duty hours over any seven-day window.

These limitations are based on a “rolling” or “floating” seven- or eight–day period, so as not to constrict your fleet to a Sunday through Saturday schedule that may not apply to your business needs. Stay on top of these limits to avoid this HOS violation.

2. Restart your drive cycle

If you want to refresh your driving cycle completely, you must take 34 consecutive hours off duty. The 34-hour restart rule went through some back-and-forth when it was originally passed, but this is the most up-to-date requirement for a restart and the only one you need to follow.

And yes, even if you haven’t worked the full 60- to 70-hour work week, once you take a 34-hour restart all of your hours are made available again.

3. The 14-hour rule

When a driver comes on-duty after taking at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty, they have a 14-hour window to complete driving for the day. Although driving isn’t permitted after the 14th hour, other work-related tasks may still be performed.

4. The 11-hour rule

Within the 14-hour driving window, you can drive a maximum of 11 hours. Those extra three hours account for all of the other work-related duties that are possible in a day’s work (waiting to be unloaded, contacting dispatch, etc.). Just be sure you don’t drive more than 11 hours of your 14-hour day to avoid this HOS violation.

5. The 30-minute break

No driving is allowed after any eight-hour on-duty period until a driver has taken the mandatory 30-minute off-duty break. The FMCSA doesn’t enforce the 30-minute off-duty break for any driver who qualifies for the short-haul operations exceptions and a select few others.

Further reading: The Complete Guide to Canada Hours of Service Rules

6. Split sleeper berth

The split sleeper berth allows drivers to split the required 10-hour off-duty break into two shifts. One of those shifts must be between eight to 10 hours and spent entirely in the sleeper. The second shift can be between two to eight hours and completed in the sleeper berth, off duty, or as a combination of sleeper berth and off duty.

Regardless of the order in which a driver takes these breaks, successfully completing both will give the driver a new 11-hour drive time and 14-hour driving window, which begins after completing the first qualifying break. This is another important rule to follow to avoid HOS violations.

Sleeper berth extension

The sleeper berth extension allows drivers to extend their 14-hour window without taking the required 10 hours off duty. By logging at least eight hours (but no more than 10 hours) in the sleeper berth, a driver can effectively freeze the 14-hour clock.

Safety for the future

These rules cover the major driver and HOS violations, rules, and penalties for property-carrying vehicles. Familiarizing yourself with hours-of-service basics can help you curb fines and keep your fleet out of trouble. Even the implementation of driver workflow support can help, but staying knowledgeable about potential policy changes is just as important. 

Avoid driver and HOS violations with the right ELD and fleet management software. Connect with a Motive sales representative to see what Motive can do for your fleet.