Hours of Service Rules – Its History and the Latest Proposed Changes

Any CDL truck driver is regulated in the number of hours they may drive per day as well as the total number of hours he or she may work per week.  Known in the industry as the HOS rules, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and specifically an administrative arm of the department called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is charged with enforcing the guidelines. The rules are intended to help reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large truck and buses.


HOS Changes

Safety will always be a top priority at DriverSource. We recognize all regulations are meant to improve safety on our highways and reduce fatalities. Our training and mentoring programs for new drivers will always focus on safety and adherence to these rules.


While some drivers may think these HOS rules are recent in origin, the reality is somewhat different!

The Earliest HOS Regulations Were Enacted Nearly One Hundred Years Ago! 

The first HOS rules came about in the 1930s. It was during that decade that trucking, similar to many other industries, benefited from organized labor’s push for laws that would protect workers from overly demanding employers. Up until that time, few rules were governing how many hours trucking companies could require drivers to work.  Little was known about fatigue, sleep, driver performance, or crash causation.

The first regulations were enacted in 1935 and sought to enforce rest periods for drivers.  It allowed for drivers to work 12 hours within a 15-hour period while requiring nine hours of rest and three hours of breaks within a 24-hour day. Familiar to many drivers today, the weekly maximum of 60 hours on-duty over seven consecutive days was also established at that time.


The 24-hour Framework was Replaced With a Rotation Schedule in 1962 

In 1962, the industry saw rules about the 24-hour framework replaced with a rotation that allowed the driver to drive up to 10 hours within a 15-hour period before being required to take eight hours off. This change effectively led to the sleeper-berth provision, making it possible for drivers to split their sleeper time into two periods. To maximize hauls and productivity, some drivers began logging “clock-running” on-duty time as sleeper time, regardless of whether they were in the sleeper resting or not.

Congress did require the DOT to establish a new set of rules in 2003 that would consider studies of driver fatigue and the causal relationship between fatigue and truck crashes. However, the changes were minor. The recent implementation of the ELD (Electronic Logging Device) mandate to electronically record a driver’s Record of Duty Status (RODS) does help to enforce HOS requirements as it prevents “fudging” paper logbooks.

New Proposals Regarding HOS Changes Released On August 14, 2019

After much industry input, proposed changes to the HOS rules were just released by the FMCSA. The proposal would increase truck driver’s flexibility with their 30-minute rest break and with allocating time in a sleeper berth. It would also extend by two hours duty time for drivers encountering adverse weather and expand the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty, consistent with workday rules for long-haul truck drivers.

 Bill D for DriverSource