How Many Hours Can A Truck Driver Drive?

With trucks always on the road, it is easy to get the impression that truck drivers are always driving. To full-time drivers, it may even feel like they drive non-stop. However, truck drivers are legally required to take breaks. In this guide, we address the topic of driving breaks and answer, “How many hours can a truck driver drive?” 

Why are driving limits important for truck drivers?

While many truck drivers may reach superhero status for stellar safety records, timeliness, and communication, they still require rest and sleep, just like every mortal. Truck driving limits are necessary because they protect the safety and well-being of professional drivers and other motorists on the road. When drivers get fatigued, their alertness, reaction time, and mood decline rapidly. So drivers must get rest before becoming a risk on the road. 

FMSCA Truck Driving Limits

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created the Federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations for truck driving limits to prevent fatigue and sleep deprivation. The regulations specify how long drivers can work and the minimum amount of time a driver must rest before returning to work. The FMCSA organizes the rules based on two types of drivers – property-carrying and passenger-carrying. Let’s take a closer look at the driving limits for property-carrying drivers. 

  • 11-Hour Driving Limit – Drivers can drive a maximum of 11 hours provided they have had 10 consecutive hours off duty. 
  • 14-Hour Driving Window – The total window of time a driver can operate a truck is 14 consecutive hours, meaning 11 hours of driving must happen within a maximum of 14 hours on the clock. Drivers cannot drive beyond the 14th straight hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14 hours. So, if you take a lunch break, the lunch break counts as part of the 14-hour period.  
  • Sleeping – In a 24-hour period, drivers must take 10 consecutive hours off for sleeping, and the remaining 14 can be used for driving.  
  • 30-Minute Driving Break – After 8 consecutive hours of driving, a driver must take a 30-minute break. The time must be spent doing anything except driving, but it still counts as part of the 14-hour block. 
  • 60/70-Hour Limit – Drivers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty on 7/8 consecutive days. Drivers can restart a 7/8 consecutive day after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty. 
  • Sleeper Berth Provision – When two drivers operate a truck, they may split their 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 the sleeper berth. All sleeper birth pairings must add up to at least 10 hours. Neither time period counts against the maximum 14-hour driving window when used together.  
  • Adverse Driving Conditions – Drivers can extend the 11-hour max driving limit and 14 hour driving window by up to 2 hours when adverse driving conditions are encountered. 
  • Short-Haul Exception – If the driver operates within a 150-air-mile radius of the normal work reporting location and the driver does not exceed a maximum duty period of 14 hours, they are exempt from keeping the record of duty and supporting documents. However, they must report and return to a normal work reporting location within 14 consecutive hours and stay within 150 air-mile radius of the work reporting location for the duration of their driving.  

Are there penalties for going over driving limits?

If a driver goes over driving limits, they will likely feel fatigued and not be safe to drive. On top of these challenges, the driver will face penalties. They will be asked to stop driving and fined for violating regulations. Depending on the severity of the violation, the driver may face civil penalties. The offense will also negatively impact a driver’s Compliance, Safety, and Accountability Score. 

Driving with QFS Transportation

QFS Transportation is one of the best intermodal trucking companies offering intermodal trucking services throughout the United States. At QFS, our drivers come first– that is why our network of Owner Operators has an outstanding road-home balance, a dedicated support team and safety staff, and the experience needed to help our drivers succeed. QFS Transportation is always searching for experienced drivers across the entire nation. If you are interested in hauling for QFS, fill out our Driver Application or our Tractor Application.