The 16 hour rule is an exception for short-haul CMV drivers that will be able to marginally extend their driving time on the road beyond standard hours if certain conditions are met.

Evidence shows that driving while tired can be up to ten times more dangerous than driving while drunk. It is the responsibility of every fleet manager to make sure their employees get adequate rest as this keeps their drivers and other motorists on the road safe, which is why the US Department of Transportation has implemented hours of service (HOS) rules that limit how many continuous hours a trucker can drive before having to clock out.

Every driver of a commercial motor vehicle must abide by the DOT HOS rules and exceptions or face hefty fines and CSA score penalties that could have a detrimental effect on your business and its reputation. Let’s take a closer look at what this rule requires, what it means for your company and if your fleet will qualify.

How Many Hours can Truckers Spend Driving?

The DOT rule limits drivers to 11 hours behind the wheel each day to prevent exhaustion by ensuring drivers have adequate time for sleep, meals, and leisure time. Additionally, drivers can spend another 3 hours each day on duty for non-driving tasks such unloading cargo, dealing with clients or filling up on gas. Drivers MUST record this time accurately so they don’t go over their daily limit. Drivers are also required to take a 30-min break after 8 hours on the road.

When Does the DOT 16 Hour Rule Apply?

The 16 hour rule extends the standard 14-hour range every cycle for short haul CMV drivers by 2 hours. The DOT hours of service rules state that the 16 hour rule can be used if the following situations occur:

  • A trucker is clocked out from duty after being active within 16 hours
  • A trucker returns to their headquarters for that day as well as the last 5 days on the clock
  • A trucker has not previously used the 16-hour rule within the last 6 days unless they have taken a 34-hour break to start a new cycle

This rule only applies to drivers who have started and ended their day at the same location for the past five days. For instance, a trucker who drives from Philadelphia to New York City and back every day would qualify.

The purpose of this exception is to give short-haul drivers the ability to get home faster rather than staying overnight to avoid excess hours. However, as stated before, drivers can only take advantage of this exception once per week.

Consequences for Exceeding Hours of Service

What happens if one of your drivers exceeds the maximum 16 hours? There are a handful of potential consequences include:

  • Drivers can be shut down on the roadside until they have enough off-duty hours to be within compliance guidelines again
  • You fleet may incur fines from state and local officials
  • Your fleet can be fined by the FMCSA itself with penalties ranging from $1,000 to $12,000 depending on the violation
  • Your CSA score can be drastically affected if your fleet is not consistently compliant

The most serious consequences are for carriers that develop a pattern of violating HOS requirements. If the pattern continues, the DOT can even bring criminal charges against the company.

Tracking Your Drivers’ Time

As fleet managers, we make sure our drivers keep an accurate log of their time. With the ELD mandate on the horizon, truckers need to record the time they spend driving with a reliable HOS log system to ensure compliance with DOT rules and regulations.

Our FMCSA-certified Electronic Logging Devices can make your fleet compliant fast before the Dec. 17th, 2017 deadline. The paperless logs make it simple for your drivers to adapt to without any steep learning curves.

By using our electronic logging device, you will know right away whether a driver can utilize the 16-hour limit or if they are in danger of exceeding it. If you’re interested in finding out more about our electronic logging device to track your drivers’ hours, you can call us at (855) 999-7828 or  request a free quote today.

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