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Hours of Service Rules (HOS) - USA/CANADA.


USA FMCSA New Rules -24 Apr 2003  - New Rules were released today. FMCSA releases details of new duty status rules.   EFFECTIVE DATE: 04 Jan 2004

CANADIAN Proposed Rules - 01 Mar 2003 - New Rules as recently proposed in Canada. Will be implemented in DDL if 'passed'. Late 2003 or even later.


These are old notes on previous Proposed rules by FMCSA.
USA Proposed HOS Rules - Year 2001 - Rules as proposed. in year 2001 - 'did not fly'. Thank goodness.
My Opinion on Proposed New Rules Year 2002 - For what it is worth..  And obsolete as of 24 Apr 2003.

USA FMCSA New Rules - 24 Apr 2003

The FMCSA publishes the new rules. The 'link' is below. Effective date 04 Jan 2004.  The rules are implemented as options in DDL v3.2.

From the FMCSA News Release 24 Apr 2003.

The new rules allow drivers to drive 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off-duty. Also, drivers may not drive beyond the 14th hour after coming on-duty, following 10 hours off-duty. Similar to existing rules, drivers may not drive after being on-duty for 60 hours in a seven-consecutive-day period or 70 hours in an eight-consecutive-day period. This on-duty cycle may be restarted whenever a driver takes at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.
Short-haul truck drivers – those drivers who routinely return to their place of dispatch after each duty tour and then are released from duty – may have an increased on-duty period of 16 hours once during any seven-consecutive-day period.

I calculated the 'lose' of Driving Hours by comparing the 'new' (11hr Driving/10hr Off Duty) and 'old' (10hr Driving/8hr Off Duty) rules.  I 'jammed' cycles of Driving and Off Duty periods and found out that the new and old rules 'repeat' after 5.25 days (126 hours).  The new rules resulted in 4 hours less  Driving time in that period - new provides 66 hours driving compared to 70 hours driving under old rules.  4/70 = 0.0571 or close to 6% less driving time.   Though it would be hard to maintain this 'pace' it is clear to even my mind (11 hr Driving followed by 10hr Off Duty compared to 10hr Driving followed by 8hr Off Duty) results in less Driving time (Driving time generates Revenue for both driver and motor carrier).  Any loss of Driving time (productivity) results in less money for driver and if the motor carrier wants to maintain 'load' carrying capability, the motor carrier will need more trucks and drivers - up to 6% more trucks and drivers.

Thus there will eventually be more trucks 'out there' creating 'tension' on the highways,  though in theory only the same number of trucks actually 'moving' at any point in time should be the same as the number that are 'moving' now.  Only truck manufacturers will benefit.  That elusive thing called 'Safety' will only be solved with proper technology i.e. systems that detect sleepiness in drivers by monitoring eye 'flutter' and other signs of sleepiness and fatigue.

I am trying to figure out what a truck driver who has slept  6,7,8, 9 hours and is required to wait until 10hrs has passed before he can drive again, will do during that added time compared to the 8 hours Off Duty now required.  I am sure the 'itch' to get rolling is primarily on this mind.  TV, computer, walking, video games, etc. only go so far...

The new 14 hour rule (replaces 'old' 15 hour rule) has a 'twist'.  FMCSA has defined a 'duty period' as the time between 10hr Off Duty periods.  And, any Off Duty times (less then 10hr hours obviously)   'count' against the 14 hour rule.  Any 'breaks' for meals, rest area breaks, etc. count against the 14 hour rule.  I suspect that the result will be a whole lot more 'snoring' (Sleeper Berth time) during meal breaks and rest area breaks since Sleeper berth  time does not 'count' against the 14 hour rule.  There is already a misconception - some folks think that only Sleeper time of 2+ hours does not 'count' against the 14 hour rule.  The words  from the FMCSA brochure: 'The 14-hour duty period may not extended with off-duty time for meal and fuel stops, etc. Only the use of a sleeper berth can extend the 14-hour on-duty period.'  Nothing in those words about 2+ hours.  I think folks mixing in the provisions of the  'split sleeper' (two periods of Sleeper berth totaling 8+ hours and each not less than 2 hours, etc.).   Why do folks 'read more' then the words.  It is pretty clear to me that ANY Sleeper berth time extends the 14 hour period.  We will see....

Which brings up another possible misconception. 70hr/8day and 60hr/7day rules.  They are 'operate' as they do now. Period.  Off Duty periods during a duty period DO NOT count against the 70hr/8day or 60hr/7day rule.

Boy, these rule changes seem simple enough, but wait until the consequences 'sink in'.

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CANADIAN Proposed Rules - 01 Mar 2003

Canada publishes new hours of work rules

Canadian transportation authorities officially proposed a new federal hours-of-service regulation for Canadian truck and bus drivers, building on an endorsed standard announced last fall by federal and provincial transport ministers.

Last September, a council of federal and provincial transport ministers approved changes to the country’s National Safety Code to give drivers more opportunity to rest and to make the rules simpler to grasp.

According to Canadian press accounts, the industry's largest trade union, the Teamsters, and its largest lobby group, the Canadian Trucking Alliance, support the changes. Government transport officials say they want the new rules to take effect sometime this fall.

The regulation would restrict drivers to 14 hours on duty (13 hours driving) followed by 10 hours off during a 24-hour period. At least eight of these off-duty hours would have to be taken consecutively, with the additional two hours to be taken in increments of no less than a half hour.

Other changes:

  • Eliminate the option to reduce the off-duty time from eight hours to four hours;

  • Increase the minimum rest for co-drivers using a sleeper berth from two hours to four consecutive hours;

  • Allow the averaging of on-duty and off-duty time over a 48-hour period; and

  • Cut the number of available work/rest cycles from three to two: a maximum 70-hour cycle over seven days and a maximum 120-hour cycle over 14 days.

Drivers who want to switch or reset cycles would need to take at least 36 consecutive hours off duty before "resetting the clock to zero" for the 70-hour cycle, and at least 72 consecutive hours off for the 120-hour cycle. At least once every 14 days, all drivers would be required to take at least 24 hours off.

Comments on the proposed regulation are being accepted over the next 30 days.

The complete details of the proposed regulations are published and an alert Canadian truck driver has provided the following link.


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My Opinion on Proposed New Rules:

No rule is going to 'fly' if the result is less productivity for the industry, for both drivers and motor carriers.  The drivers will not be in the mood to 'sit' in some truck stop, rest area, or highway exit ramp for up to 36 hours in order to accommodate mandated 'rest' times, in the mistaken notion by the regulators that this will result in less 'fatigued' and thus 'safer' drivers.  They are just going to create 'pissed off' drivers, which is even more dangerous driving on the highways. Drivers will spend more hours 'out' and getting less money coming in for that time spend 'out'.  Motor carriers are not going to be in the mood to have to buy more trucks and hire more drivers to deliver the same tonnage they are accomplishing now.  Thousands of extra trucks 'idling' around the country side so drivers can 'be rested', as mandated by regulations, does not make any sense economically or practically.  The answer is a better education of the four wheelers on how to share the road with the big rigs.  The big rigs are not 'going away' since the country depends on them for 80% of the movement of essentials from there to here. Putting more of them out on the highways is not the answer.

My truck driving career was rather short lived (3 months before an, on the job, fracture of my left heel put me out of the truck for several months). I returned for a period of 3 months last summer (2000) and drove for a local Owner Operator delivering mostly beer in the PA, OH, and MD area (considered local driving). During that short time, I did develop an opinion on the Hours of Service regulations as applied in the USA. There are several proposals for modifications to the regulations.

Some proposals seem to benefit the driver. The one that I like: allow a trucker to drive/work for 12 to 14 hours per day, and then require him to rest for 9 to 10 hours straight so he can get a decent amount of uninterrupted sleep (8 to 9 hours). A 24 hour cycle will be established which establish a more natural work and rest cycle. The work hours can be any combination of Driving and On Duty Not Driving as long as the total does not exceed the limit of 12 to 14 hours. At lease 2 hours of break time (Off Duty) may be required during this 12 to 14 hour work period. The two hour break time can be accumulated as a series of short breaks. A long haul trucker could then get some decent driving time and still get some decent rest time. Team drivers could continue to use the split sleeper rule as it is now implemented.

There will also be a requirement for a 'weekend' rest period of 32 hours after 60 hrs of work. There is an option for long haul truckers to work a two week cycle - work 72 hours the first week, followed by a break of 32 hours. In the second week, a trucker can only work 48 hours and he would have to take a longer 'weekend' of up to 80 hours, before starting on the next work cycle. This will be complicated, and everybody will need DDL to sort it out - assuming I can make DDL do this! It will not be too hard to check if a driver complied with the rules. What is more interesting, and more difficult, will be 'predicting' what a driver should do forehand, in order to stay out of hours violations.

There is also a pending requirement for a 'black box' recorder much like the ones in airplanes, so accidents can be analyzed based on data recorded before and during the accident.

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Below is a summary of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's proposed hours of service rule.

Five types of operations are identified, as follows:

  1. Type 1 - Long haul operations where driver is away from reporting location for 3 or more consecutive days.
  2. Type 2 - Long haul operations where driver is away from reporting location overnight but less than 3 days.
  3. Type 3 - Operations where driver operates within 6 hours' driving time of reporting location and has 2 duty periods in same day.
  4. Type 4 - Operations where driver operates within 6 hours' driving time of reporting location and who returns to work reporting location and is released within 12 consecutive hours.
  5. Type 5 - Operations where driving is incidental to other primary work activities and drivers report for work and are released from work at the same reporting location..

Daily on duty limits and off duty requirements (No distinction between driving and on-duty.):

  • Type 1 (Long haul) drivers are limited to no more than 12 hours on-duty within a 14 consecutive hour period . Must have at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty in each 24 hour period. Team drivers may take their 10 hours off-duty in a sleeper berth in no more than 2 periods of at least 5 consecutive hours each. Drivers are limited to 60 hours on-duty in 7-day workweek. Drivers on trips requiring two or more consecutive workweeks away from normal work reporting location may average two weekly maximum on-duty periods, (i.e., 120 hours on-duty over 14 days). The longer period may not be more than 72 hours on-duty before end of workweek. Drivers must have a combined total of at least 112 hours off-duty during these periods. Electronic on board recording devices (black boxes) required.
  • Type 2 (Regional) drivers are limited to no more than 12 hours on-duty within a 14 consecutive hour period . Drivers must have at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty in each 24 hour period. Drivers are limited to 60 hours on-duty in 7-day workweek. Electronic on board recording devices (black boxes) required.
  • Type 3 (Local split-shift) drivers must have at least 3 hours off-duty between shifts and at least 9 consecutive hours off duty during the 24 hour period. Drivers are limited to 60 hours on-duty in 7-day workweek. No logs or recording (black boxes) required.
  • Type 4 (Local pick up and delivery) drivers must have at least 12 consecutive hours off-duty in each 24-hour period. Drivers are limited to 60 hours on-duty in 7-day workweek. No logs or recording (black boxes) required.
  • Type 5 (Primary work not driving) drivers must have 9 consecutive hours off-duty in each 24-hour period. Drivers may be on-duty up to 78 hours in any workweek. No logs or recording (black boxes) required.

All drivers must be provided an off-duty period of at least 32 to 56 consecutive hours that includes at least two consecutive midnight to 6:00 a.m. periods, before the start of the next workweek.

Written comments should be sent to the USDOT Docket Facility, Attn: Docket FMCSA-97-2350, 400 Seventh St., S.W., Washington, D.C. 29590. The NPRM is posted on the Internet and can be reached through  Comment must be received by December 15, 2000.


Comments on FMCSA' S hours of service proposal should be addressed to:
Docket No. FMCSA-97-2350, Clerk
U.S. DOT Dockets, Room PL-401
400 Seventh St. S.W.
Washington, DC  20590-0001

Comments may be submitted on line to

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Last modified: Wednesday April 13, 2011.