How Many Hours Can a Truck Driver Drive?

March 4, 2022

How Many Hours Can a Truck Driver Drive?

Legal drive-time limits and what they mean

Commercial drivers must adhere to a lot of regulations regarding their time behind the wheel. These rules are in place to keep you safe as a driver by ensuring that you get enough rest and personal time while on the road. It is important to understand and obey all of the rules and regulations regarding driving time.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website outlines the full list of regulations, but we’ve outlined some important major rules - and exceptions - below.

11-Hour Time Limit

In short, you’re allowed to drive for 11 hours per day before being required to take a 10 hour break. There are some other rules (which we have outlined below), and they do sometimes change. So make sure to keep up to date with the changing laws.

If you drive as part of a team, the rules apply to each person individually. It may take some planning to make sure you’re maximizing the time the truck can stay moving while you both stay compliant.

14-Hour Time Limit

You cannot exceed 14 hours from the start of your workday to the end. This includes driving time as well as on-duty, not driving time.

30 Minutes Every 8 Hours

You must take a 30 minute break for every 8 hours of driving time. You can take this in your sleeper cab, at a truck stop or travel center, and the time can be off-duty or on-duty as long as you’re not operating a motor vehicle.

Logging Time

Drivers are required to maintain accurate logs of driving and non-driving time. Electronic logs keep track of driving time automatically, but it’s a good idea to have a paper copy as a backup.

There are 4 different types of time that you need to log:

  • Off-duty – This is exactly what it sounds like - time that you are not working that can be spent relaxing, pursuing hobbies, eating, etc.
  • Sleeper Berth – All time spent in the sleeper berth.
  • Driving – All time spent physically driving, including time spent sitting in traffic.
  • On-duty, not driving – All time spent not driving but still doing work. This can include loading/unloading, gassing up your vehicle, performing inspections, etc.

Rule Exceptions

The FMCSA has outlined several exceptions to the rules above. Check with your employer to see if your circumstances fall under any of these categories.

Yard Moves

If you’re moving the rig inside a yard, this can be logged as on-duty, not driving time.

Personal Conveyance

If you’re using your truck for reasons not related to work. The truck can be laden or unladen.

Adverse Driving Conditions

In very rare situations, drivers may extend the daily driving limit if certain conditions (like inclement weather) are met.

Direct Emergency Assistance

Drivers may complete their runs under certain state or federal emergency declarations. This is particularly relevant with the emergence of COVID-19.

Short Hauls

If you’re consistently operating within 150 air miles from your home terminal and returning within 14 hours daily, you can report daily hours instead of regular logs.

There are a lot of rules you need to follow as a trucker, and it’s important to make sure you’re following them and being safe. Make sure you completely understand the FMCSA’s regulations as well as your company’s rules before getting on the road.

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