Guides / A Deep Dive into Hours-of-Service Rules / What is HOS?

What is HOS?

According to the FMCSA, hours of service (HOS) is the maximum amount of time drivers are allowed to be on duty. This includes drive time and specifies the number and length of rest periods. HOS helps ensure that drivers stay awake and alert while en route. In general, all carriers and drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) must comply with HOS regulations found in 49 CFR 395.

What’s the purpose of the hours-of-service regulations? 

Hours-of-service rules help promote driver alertness and prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue. 

Hours-of-service rules and definition

The hours-of-service rules are federal safety regulations that address the maximum amount of time a commercial motor vehicle driver can work in the United States, among other things. 

Understanding the hours-of-service rules

The federal hours-of-service regulations are a fairly complex set of safety-related requirements that describe: 

  • How long a driver is allowed to drive during a single shift
  • The amount of time a driver can drive during the week
  • When a driver must take a rest break during a work shift
  • How much time off a driver must have between shifts

Who must comply with HOS rules? 

Once you know what HOS is, it’s important to understand who must comply. While there are several exemptions, the rules state that motor carriers and drivers must comply if they move goods or passengers in interstate commerce.  

This means that the CMV either crosses state lines, or the shipment of the goods originated from out of state.

How to demonstrate HOS compliance

Generally, drivers must show their compliance with hours-of-service rules by logging their driving, on-duty, and off-duty time using an electronic logging device (ELD) or paper logs (if the carrier, driver, or vehicle qualifies for an ELD exemption).

Do individual states have intrastate HOS rules?

Yes. Since states are federally permitted to be more lenient for intrastate commerce, HOS rules can sometimes differ from state to state. 

Generally speaking, intrastate commerce means the goods being hauled originated and are delivered within the state, and the transportation doesn’t fall under the definition of interstate commerce.

Make HOS compliance easy with Motive

Motive can help your fleet stay in compliance with the FMCSA’s hours-of-service rules and regulations. Learn more about Motive’s ELD compliance solution, or request a demo to see how it works in real time.