How Many Hours Do Truck Drivers Work?

Truck drivers are professionals that keeps goods moving across the country. They are the backbone of the logistics industry, ensuring that everything from groceries to construction materials reaches its destination on time. However, the life of a truck driver isn’t just about the open road and scenic landscapes; it also involves long hours and strict regulations to ensure safety.

This blog will explore the working hours of truck drivers, the regulations governing their schedules, and what it takes to excel in a career behind the wheel.

Understanding the Hours of Service Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulated the working hours of truck drivers. The FMCSA has established the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations to prevent driver fatigue and reduce accidents on the road. These regulations stipulate how long a truck driver can operate and when they must take mandatory rest breaks.

truck drivers shift

Five Essential Hours of Service Rules

1. The 11-Hour Rule: This rule dictates that truck drivers can operate for a maximum of 11 consecutive hours after taking a 10-hour break. This rule ensures that drivers get adequate rest between shifts, preventing fatigue-related accidents on the road.

2. The 14-Hour Rule: The 14-hour rule stipulates that a truck driver’s workday is limited to 14 consecutive hours from when they come on duty. This includes driving time and other 

work-related activities like loading and unloading cargo, paperwork, vehicle inspections, and breaks. After reaching this 14-hour limit, drivers must take a minimum 10-hour break before starting a new workday.

3. The 10-Hour Break: Following the 14-hour work window, truck drivers must take a 10-hour break to rest and recharge. This break is vital for preventing driver fatigue and ensuring drivers are alert and focused when returning to the road.

4. The 60/70-Hour Limit: According to this rule, drivers must not exceed 60 hours of driving within seven or 70 hours within eight consecutive days., depending on their employer’s schedule. Once these limits are reached, they must take the appropriate rest period before resuming work. This rule helps prevent overworking and fatigue.

5. The 34-Hour Restart: This provision allows drivers to reset their weekly work limits by taking a 34-hour break. During this break, drivers must have at least two consecutive periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. This rule provides flexibility in managing work hours over the long term while ensuring drivers have a significant rest period.

Exceptions and Flexibility to the HOS Rules

Truck drivers often have some flexibility within these regulations. This allows them to adapt to changing road conditions and traffic while ensuring adequate rest.

1. Team Drivers: Team drivers, where two drivers share the driving responsibilities, are subject to different HOS regulations. While one driver is on duty, the other can rest in the sleeper berth. This allows for continuous driving and is helpful in long-haul operations.

2. Personal Conveyance: Personal conveyance refers to using a commercial vehicle for personal purposes, such as finding lodging or meals, commuting to a terminal, or seeking repair services while off-duty. This does not count against the driver’s HOS limits.

3. Yard Moves: When a driver moves a commercial vehicle within a facility, like a trucking terminal or warehouse, it’s considered a yard move. Yard moves are typically exempt from HOS rules.

4. Short-Haul Exemption: Under the short-haul exemption, confident drivers who operate within a 150-mile radius of their work reporting location and return to that location daily may be exempt from the 14-hour rule. They can extend their driving window to 16 hours on occasion.

5. Adverse Driving Conditions: If drivers encounter unexpected adverse driving conditions, such as severe weather or traffic delays, they can extend their maximum driving time by up to two hours to reach a safe location.

6. Direct Emergency Assistance: This exception allows drivers to exceed their driving and on-duty limits to provide direct assistance in response to emergencies like natural disasters or accidents. The aim is to ensure timely help reaches those in need.

truck drivers on the road

These exceptions provide flexibility within the HOS rules to accommodate various scenarios that truck drivers may encounter while ensuring safety and allowing them to manage their work effectively. Drivers and carriers must understand these exceptions and use them appropriately to comply with regulations while fulfilling their duties.

Truck drivers are crucial in keeping our economy moving, but the job demands are substantial. Understanding the HOS regulations governing working hours and adhering to them is essential for both safety and success in truck driving. 


How much do truck drivers make an hour?

The hourly wage for truck drivers varies widely based on factors such as experience, location, and the type of trucking job. On average, truck drivers in the United States can earn hourly wages ranging from $17 to $30 or more.

How many hours can truck drivers drive?

Truck drivers are subject to federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations in the United States, which limit the number of hours they can drive in a specific period. Under these regulations, a truck driver is allowed 11 hours in a 14-hour workday after 10 consecutive hours off duty.

How many hours are truck drivers allowed to drive?

Truck drivers are allowed to drive up to 11 hours in a single work shift, provided they’ve had at least 10 consecutive hours off duty before starting their next transition. Additionally, they must adhere to daily and weekly driving limits outlined in federal HOS regulations to ensure safe and well-rested driving.

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