Sunday, February 9, 2020

What time limits do truck drivers have to abide by?

This post will help end the endless questions about the hours a truck driver can do without getting into trouble with the law.

There are 4 clocks a truck driver has to observe:
1. 70 hour - 7 day clock
2. 14 hour- on duty clock
3. 11 hour - drive clock
4. 8 hour on-duty/drive clock. 

In order, number 1. In any given 7 day week, we can only have been on-duty for 70 hours.  We can't go over that.  Going on-duty starts when you do you pre-trip inspection. It used to be on a paper log, now we simply push a button on and Electronic Logging Device (ELD) that puts us on-duty and then we put a "Remark" on it depicting what we are doing - in this case, a pre-trip inspection (which is required by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules. Many truck drivers don't do any kind of pre-trip inspection, which I find ludicrous but let's not get off topic. 

Per the 70 hour rule, quite a while back, the Almight FMCSA decided to give truckers the option to reset the 70 hour clock with a 34 hour break.  You take 34 hours off-duty and the clock automatically resets to 70 hours. That's the way most trucking companies run things today. 

Number 2: 14 hours is the amount of hours you can be on-duty on any given day. When you start that 14 hour clock, you can't stop it.  You can go off-duty, but that clock still runs.  It continues to run until 14 hours is up and then you have to stop.  Now, you can go off duty anytime before that 14 hour clock is up and if you stay off duty for 10 hours, your 14 hour clock resets.  You can go off duty, can drive, can be on-duty not driving - but that clock keeps running.

So, let's say I have to be at the plant at 6:15 am.  I go on-duty at 5:50 am, do my 10 minute pre-trip inspection and then drive to the plant. Get loaded, start driving.  I go to a plant in some cases, deliver the load or drop the trailer  and leave. And drive back as far as I can before that 14 hour clock is up.  I have to be stopped before that 14 hour clock is done. 

Number 3: 11 hour drive clock. In the amount of time provided in the 14 hours to be on duty, I can drive 11 of those hours.  That's it.  It doesn't have to be 11 consecutive hours, in fact with the current rules, you can't drive 11 consecutive hours. Back in the day - in the 80's we drove much differently than what we are forced to abide by now.  I mean, it wasn't legal, but I can remember driving 400 gallons of fuel out before stopping. Yes, no stopping, not even to go to the bathroom. Trucks could drive 100 plus miles per hour, we weren't limited by all of these outrageous rules and guess what? Do you remember all the horrific accidents occurring back then as they do now with trucks? Sure, there were some bad accidents, but you can find deadly accidents on a daily basis now.  Why? Different post, take too long to write out my opinion on that.

Number 4: 8 hour clock. This is a relatively new rule that most truckers hate.  This rule dictates that after you go on-duty, you have to take a 30 minute rest break before 8 hours is up.  If 8 hours come and you haven't done it, you can't drive until you do. It can really mess with any given driving day and it's completely unnecessary and more-so, they've finally done studies on it that have concluded that it doesn't help anything at all.  I drove a lot of years without being forced to take a break. 

That's it. Much more I could go into, but so many truckers don't understand this stuff. It messes with their heads.  It's kind of confusing at first.  ELD's messed with many people's heads that have been doing paper logs forever.  It's not that difficult, but you have to orient all of these different clocks in your head.  The ELD tells you everything, but drivers still have problems with it.  The rules haven't changed.  What you did on your paper logs is the same you do with the ELD, it's really that simple.

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