Search By Topic The Green Supply Chain Distribution Digest
Supply Chain Digest Logo

Category: Transportation and Logistics

Supply Chain News: The Interesting History of Hours of Service Rules in the US


First Issued in 1937, Recent Years especially have Seen Major Legal and Political Battles

July 21, 2020
SCDigest Editorial Staff
So-called "Hours of Service" (HOS) are promulgated by the US Department of Transportation and now its Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to regulate truck driver time on the road and other behaviors meant to increase safety in trucking - while still keeping the goods moving.

The rules seem always a matter of debate and in recent years have seen many changes.

Supply Chain Digest Says...


What's next for HOS? Who knows, but we can be sure there will be something.

What do you say?

Click here to send us your comments
Click here to see reader feedback

HOS rules were first issued in the US in 1937, when the Interstate Commerce Commission issued its first driver regulatons, which allowed 10 hours driving time, 8 hours off duty, 60/70 hours in 7/8 days, and the sleeper berth time could be split into two periods.

Recently, the web site of Heavy Duty Trucking magazine put together an interesting timeline of HOS s changes since those initial rules in 1937. Highlights include:

1963: A change in the rules allowed drivers to split their eight hours of off-duty time into two periods of 4 hours each.

1996: The 1995 ICC Termination Act required the Office of Motor Carriers in the Federal Highway Administration (the predecessor of the FMCSA) to address fatigue-related motor carrier safety issues. In 1996, the agency gave advanced notice of its plan to make substantive changes to the rules.

2003: FMCSA issued a final rule that was significantly different from its initial proposal. It extended driving time to 11 hours but cut the driving window to 14 hours, not extendable by breaks. It lengthened the off-duty time required to 10 hours, which had the effect of setting up a 24-hour day more in tune with circadian rhythms. And it added a controversial 34-hour restart. The rules were supposed to go into effect in January 2004.

2005: The agency addressed the driver health question, preserved the core requirements of the rule, and adjusted the sleeper berth and short-haul provisions. It required drivers using sleeper berths to spend 8 consecutive hours in the berth and take an additional 2 hours either off duty or in the sleeper berth; this 2 hour period had to be counted against the 14-hour driving window.

2007: The D.C. Circuit again ruled in favor of Public Citizen and vacated the 11-hour driving time and 34-hour restart provisions. The court concluded that FMCSA had violated the Administrative Procedure Act's requirements because it did not adequately disclose modifications it had made to the 2003 operator-fatigue model and because that model failed to account for cumulative fatigue due to the increased weekly driving and working hours.

Late 2007: FMCSA published an Interim Final Rule, effective Dec. 27, to allow up to 11 hours of driving time within a 14-hour, non-extendable window following 10 consecutive hours off duty. It also allowed a restart of the weekly on-duty time limits after the driver had at least 34 consecutive hours off duty. A request by Public Citizen to invalidate the IFR was denied by the D.C. Circuit Court.

(See More Below)



2009: Public Citizen and its allies agreed to suspend their case against the rules pending a rewrite by FMCSA; they said they would publish a new final rule by July 26, 2011, which was later postponed until October 2011. ATA expressed "grave concern."

2010: FMCSA proposed to keep the 11-hour limit, although it said it would consider cutting it to 10 hours. And it proposed that the 34-hour restart include two periods from midnight to 6 a.m. and be limited to use once per week.

 2011:  At the insistence of ATA, Congress ordered FMCSA to conduct a field study of the 34-hour restart.

2013: The D.C. Circuit vacated the requirement for short-haul drivers to take a 30-minute break, but upheld the 2011 rule in all other respects.

2014: A field test of the 34-hour restart requiring drivers to take two successive periods off between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. found that this controversial provision is more effective at combating fatigue than the earlier rule. ATA, which had asked for the study, criticized the research.

Late 2014: The 2015 appropriations law contained a provision suspending the more restrictive restart that was part of the 2013 HOS rules. This put the pre-2013 34-hour restart rule back into effect.

2015: The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate was published – something safety groups had called for in their opposition to earlier HOS rules.

2017: Congress suspended the 2011 34-hour restart provisions, which required two consecutive off-duty periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. and allowed only one restart per week. It temporarily reinstated the pre-2011 restart rule and required a study of the effectiveness of the new rule.

Late 2017: The ELD rule goes into effect, with a two-year grandfather period for fleets using automatic onboard recording devices to monitor driver hours of service.

2019: FMCSA published a notice of proposed rulemaking that would add flexibility for the 30-minute rest break, the sleeper berth split, and adverse driving conditions, allowing drivers to be on-duty beyond the previously inflexible 14-hour on-duty windoMidw, as well as expanding the local exemption.

2020: The final rule largely mirrors the proposal, without an initial proposal for drivers to "pause" the 14-hour clock.


Again, these are only the highlights. The full timeline from HDT is available here.

What's next for HOS? Who knows, but we can be sure there will be something.

Any reaction to this timeline of HOS? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.

John wittstruck

Ceo, Witts motor freight
Posted on: Dec, 05 2022
One thing I have never understood is why the DOT governs how many hours I work when the DOT is so concerned with how rested I am. Why not focus on rest time instead for example only one law "vehicle must be parked in one spot for 10 hours without moving every 24 hours and each 10 hour period must be 8 hours apart. " Simply no more on duty, off duty, yard move, driving or personal convenience. 



Follow Us

Supply Chain Digest news is available via RSS
RSS facebook twitter youtube
bloglines my yahoo
news gator


Subscribe to our insightful weekly newsletter. Get immediate access to premium contents. Its's easy and free
Enter your email below to subscribe:
Join the thousands of supply chain, logistics, technology and marketing professionals who rely on Supply Chain Digest for the best in insight, news, tools, opinion, education and solution.
Home | Subscribe | Advertise | Contact Us | Sitemap | Privacy Policy
© Supply Chain Digest 2006-2023 - All rights reserved