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4 Frequently Asked Questions about FMCSA Hours of Service

DON JERRELL
HNI Associate Vice President

Rest and work in the transportation industry — aka FMCSA hours of service — are heavily regulated and can be confusing.FMCSA hours of service
 
The Hours of Service of Drivers Final Rule was published in 2011. Some regulations went into effect in February 2012. The remainder of the FMCSA hours of service rules are planned to go into effect July 1, 2013. [Click here for a link to a FMCSA hours of service summary.]
 

FMCSA Hours of Service FAQs

 
Following are a some frequently asked questions — and misconceptions — about on-duty and sleeper-berth time, activities covered in the FMCSA hours of service rules.
 

Off Duty Does Not Equal Sleeper

 
Question: Off duty and sleeper are interchangeable, right? Don't they mean the same thing?
 
Answer: No, and this is a common misunderstanding.
 
When drivers see that off duty and sleeper both apply to their 10-hour break (any combination of off duty and sleeper), they think they are interchangeable.  However, this is not the case.
 
Sleeper berth means the driver is resting (not necessarily sleeping) in the sleeper-berth compartment of the unit.
 
Off-duty time is when the driver is relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work.
 
According to FMCSA hours of service, a driver who is in the sleeper berth and logs off duty can found in noncompliance for either an inaccurate log or a form and manner violation.
 

If You Need to Be There, You're On Duty

 
Question: With the regulation in February 2012 that allows a driver to log “time spent resting in or on a parked vehicle” as off duty, can I now log time at a shipper or receiver as off duty if I am in the cab of my unit?
 
Answer: According to FMCSA hours of service, on-duty time is defined as:
 
“All time loading or unloading a commercial motor vehicle, supervising, or assisting in the loading or unloading, attending a commercial motor vehicle being loaded or unloaded, remaining in a state of readiness to operate the commercial motor vehicle, or in giving or receiving receipts for shipments loaded or unloaded.”
 
If any of these apply, you are on duty and not driving.
 
Auditors and inspectors determine whether a driver had the ability to leave the facility when judging whether he or she could have been off duty.
 
So, if you need to be there, you are considered on duty.
 

Only Log Sleeper-Berth Time IN Your Sleeper Berth

 
Question: Can I log sleeper-berth time if I am at a shipper or receiver?
 
Answer: You can log sleeper-berth any time that you are resting in the sleeper-berth compartment of your unit.
 
You cannot log sleeper-berth time if you are not in the sleeper berth compartment of your unit. Remember to log what you do and do what you log!
 

The Ins and Outs of On-Duty Time

 
Question: What is on-duty time?
 
Answer: Following is the definition of on-duty time from the FMCSA hours of service regulations (it's Part 395.2, if you're keeping score). Please note if anyof these qualifiers apply, then a driver is recording on-duty time:
 
On-duty time means all time from the time a driver begins to work or is required to be in readiness to work until the time the driver is relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work.
 
On-duty time shall include: 
 
(1) All time at a plant, terminal, facility, or other property of a motor carrier or shipper, or on any public property, waiting to be dispatched, unless the driver has been relieved from duty by the motor carrier;
 
(2) All time inspecting, servicing, or conditioning any commercial motor vehicle at any time; 
 
(3) All driving time as defined in the term driving time;
 
(4) All time in or on a commercial motor vehicle, other than:
 
(i) Time spent resting in or on a parked vehicle, except as otherwise provided in Part 397.5 of this subchapter;
 
(ii) Time spent resting in a sleeper berth; or
 
(iii) Up to 2 hours riding in the passenger seat of a property-carrying vehicle moving on the highway immediately before or after a period of at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth;
 
(5) All time loading or unloading a commercial motor vehicle, supervising, or assisting in the loading or unloading, attending a commercial motor vehicle being loaded or unloaded, remaining in readiness to operate the commercial motor vehicle, or in giving or receiving receipts for shipments loaded or unloaded;
 
(6) All time repairing, obtaining assistance, or remaining in attendance upon a disabled commercial motor vehicle;
 
(7) All time spent providing a breath sample or urine specimen, including travel time to and from the collection site, to comply with the random, reasonable suspicion, post-crash, or follow-up testing required by Part 382 of this subchapter when directed by a motor carrier;
 
(8) Performing any other work in the capacity, employ, or service of, a motor carrier; and 
 
(9) Performing any compensated work for a person who is not a motor carrier.
 
What parts of FMCSA hours of service rules do you find most challenging? What are you biggest obstacles to compliance? How ready are you for July 1? Please share in comments!

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Topics: Transportation