Safety is paramount for all drivers, but especially for semi-truck drivers, considering (1) how large and heavy their vehicles are and (2) how much time they spend on the road. Many factors contribute to safe driving, but one of the most essential habits that professional drivers must develop is getting a solid 7 to 9 hours of high-quality sleep each night. To ensure that drivers take enough breaks to rest properly, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established hours-of-service regulations. So, how many hours can a truck driver drive? Scroll down to find out.
How Many Hours Can a Truck Driver Drive?
If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in truck driving, you might be curious about what your work hours will be like. Obviously, it’s not a typical 9-to-5 job. Instead of a desk, you’ll have a powerful semi-truck. Instead of typical office hours, your schedule may change based on the route and how long you’re legally able to drive in a day. So, how many hours can a truck driver drive? As of August 2023, the following FMCSA hours-of-service regulations are in place for property-carrying drivers:
The 11-Hour Driving Limit
After taking 10 consecutive hours off duty, you may drive a maximum of 11 hours.
The 14-Hour Limit
After taking 10 consecutive hours off duty, you may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after you come on duty. Taking off more time does not extend the 14-hour period.
This means that if you want to drive the maximum amount (11 hours), you must do it within a 14-hour window. Your 14-hour window begins when your driving shift begins. So, 14 hours after you began driving for the day, even if you took time off for naps or meal breaks, you must be off duty for at least 10 consecutive hours before you may drive again.
The 30-Minute Driving Break
If you’ve driven for a period of 8 cumulative hours without at least a 30-minute interruption, you must take a 30-minute break. Any non-driving period of 30 consecutive minutes will satisfy the requirement. For example, you could be on duty but not driving, resting in your sleeper berth, having lunch, etc.
The 60/70-Hour Limit
You may not drive after 60 hours in a 7-day period, or 70 hours in an 8-day period. You may restart the 7- or 8-day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
The Sleeper Berth Provision
You may split your required 10-hour off-duty period as long as one off-duty period is at least 2 hours long and the other involves at least 7 consecutive hours spent in your sleeper berth. However, all your sleeper berth pairings must add up to at least 10 hours. And when used together, neither time period counts against the maximum 14-hour driving window.
Adverse Driving Conditions
Sometimes the weather simply won’t cooperate! If you run into adverse driving conditions — snow, sleet, fog, ice, or even unusual traffic — you’re allowed to extend the 11-hour maximum driving limit and 14-hour driving window by up to 2 hours. This rule aims to help drivers reach a safe place to stop and rest when driving conditions aren’t ideal.
These regulations were developed to ensure the safety of all drivers on the road, so it’s essential that you follow them. When you’re first starting out, they may seem a little confusing, so it’s important that you take some time to review them and learn how to log your hours properly.
Looking to begin your career as a truck driver? Contact BLC Transportation today. We have opportunities for both company drivers and lease-purchase drivers. With our lease-purchase program, you can make 90 percent of the line haul while driving new trucks that provide comfort, fuel efficiency, and reliability. Plus, we offer bonuses and incentives, a health insurance subsidy, a friendly passenger/pet policy, assistance with registering for an LLC, and more. Join our team today!