Log Book Rules For Truck Drivers In the USA

New drivers working in the trucking industry may need a few tips on following some basic rules. It requires effort to understand all the associated rules of service. These regulations, especially the nuances of log book rules for truck drivers in the USA, can be complicated. 

New drivers may get annoyed at being reminded of a new rule every time they hit the road. However, it is a good idea to get ahead of any issues and learn more about the regulations for truck drivers.

To save some hassle, we have compiled everything to know about the log book rules and hours-of-service regulations for truck drivers in the USA. 

What are Hours-of-Service Regulations for Truck Drivers in the USA?

The hours-of-service regulations comprise specific rules administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) critical to road safety. 

American hours-of-service regulations or log book rules mention that the drivers can drive for 11 hours a day, with a 10-hour break before their next trip and at least 8 hours in the sleeper berth.

Let’s talk about the rules and log book exemptions according to FMCSA categorically.

Weekly Driving Limit

FMCSA allows drivers to work 70 or 80 hours depending on the type of company for which drivers are working.

  • Drivers in a 24/7 operating company can work 70 hours in eight days, dividing their hours over the week.
  • At the same time, drivers in a company that does not operate 24/7 have a time limit of 60 hours in 7 days.

However, it is a rolling total, which means drivers can add the remaining driving hours of the day to the next day every midnight.

Daily Driving Limit

The 14-hour daily driving rule mentions that drivers cannot be “on duty” for more than 14 hours in one day. The maximum acceptable driving period is 11 hours, followed by a 10-hour break before driving a commercial vehicle can occur again.

Rest Breaks

A thirty-minute rest break is compulsory if it has been more than eight hours since the last off-duty or sleeper berth break. Drivers must take a thirty-minute break after driving for eight hours straight and going for three more hours to complete 11 hours for the day.

34-Hour Reset

Once 70 hours have been exhausted in 8 days or 60 hours in 7 days, the 60- or 70-hour clock reset can occur by taking 34 hours off-duty consecutively. 

Some drivers do their laundry, and others buy the things they need. Still others may roam around by exploring different areas.

The 34-hour reset can cut earning potential, so keeping a log book of hours is critical in planning daily drive times. If a driver can avoid running out of hours abruptly at the beginning of the week, it ensures the schedule won’t be unnecessarily interrupted.

The 34-hour reset log book rule is essential to return the hours to zero and start their 60-hour or 70-hour week again.

Keeping a Log Book 

Logbooks can become especially handy whenever authorities like MTO, DOT, or CVSE pull a driver over. They track driving hours and provide documentation in case of conflicts or work disputes. Since 2017, paper logbooks have transitioned to Electronic Logging Devices or ELDs (with few exceptions.

These devices can come in various formats, from tablets to apps on a smartphone, as long as it is registered and onboard the driver’s commercial vehicle. Drivers must also have operating information for the electronic device and six months’ backup data stored somewhere other than their vehicle. Here are the guidelines according to FMCSA.

ELD Rule Guidelines

  1. ELDs are required by commercial drivers who are required to prepare hours-of-service (HOS) records of duty status (RODS).
  2. Sets ELD performance and design standards and requires ELDs to be certified and registered with FMCSA.
  3. Establishes what supporting documents drivers and carriers are required to keep.
  4. Prohibits harassment of drivers based on ELD data or connected technology (such as fleet management system). The rule also provides recourse for drivers who believe they have been harassed.

Driver’s Responsibilities

Commerical drivers must record the following things in the logbook(ELD) at the end of each working day.

  1. Date, Total Duty Hours, and the Number of Miles you drove.
  2. Name of The Driving Company (Carrier) and the head office address
  3. License Plate Number
  4. List of Driver(s) and Co-Driver(s) with Names & Signatures
  5. Local Time and Time Zone
  6. Misc. Notes or Remarks and Observations

*This is a general list; local or interstate laws may require more or less information.

Log Book Submission Rules

Typically, ELD log submittals should occur to the company every 13 days. Exact terms might vary from one company to another but require recording of on-duty and driving hours in the ELD log. 

For truckers that work 60 hours a week, the logbook must contain the details for seven days and eight days for 70 hours. Some companies also ask drivers to report after every trip.

Additional Information:

On-duty time is when a driver is actually driving or carrying out any other work-related tasks. For example, drivers can be on duty 14 hours a day, of which 11 hours are driving time. The remaining three hours can include other related tasks besides 30-minute breaks.

Off-duty time refers to the part of the day when drivers are not working, such as resting and sleeping time.

Who Needs to Comply with Log Book Rules in the US?

Drivers with a commercial driving license or CMV in interstate commerce must abide by the FMCSA regulations. Interstate drivers must follow the Federal HOS rules, whereas local commercial drivers should comply with their state rules. 

Log Book Exemptions

Here are the log book exemptions that are applicable under normal conditions.

  • Adverse Conditions Exception

This exemption provides truckers with an extra two hours of driving time without extending the 14-hour limit. However, it applies only to adverse and unpredictable conditions.

  • 16-Hour Short-Haul Exception

The 16-Hour Short Haul Exception, log book rule, allows for an extension of the 14-hour period to 16-hour once every seven consecutive days. It requires a return to home each day.

  • Non-CDL Short-Haul Exception

Drivers working short distances without needing a CDL can extend their 14-hour period to 16 hours twice, seven consecutive days after a 34-hour reset. It also requires a return to the reporting location daily after working within a 150-mile radius.

At the same time, drivers must:

  • Not drive past 14 hours for the remaining five days
  • Not drive for more than 11 hours after ten consecutive off-duty hours
  • Stop within 16 hours on two allowed days
  • Take the 34-hour reset

Summing Up: Is it Time to Hit The Road?

Now that you know all the ins and outs of the FMCSA logbook rules, it’s much easier to understand and follow the hours-of-service regulations and logbook exemptions. Contacting trucking operations managers or checking in with the local state laws is also a good practice.

For those new to the trucking industry or in need of a refresher, don’t hesitate to get in touch.