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Understanding FMCSR Part 395 – Hours of Service of Drivers

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Workforce shortages and supply chain issues have motor carriers facing new challenges to operate safely, efficiently, and profitably. In answer to these growing issues, Department of Transportation (DOT) auditors are targeting Hours of Service (HOS) and driver records of duty status in 2022 to ensure carriers are in compliance.

Regulating HOS ensures that drivers avoid fatigue and operate safely on roadways. As a motor carrier, keeping accurate records of HOS for all your drivers is critical.

National Transportation Consultants has former state and national safety enforcement officers on staff to help. Our team has decades of experience navigating FMCSA regulations and we offer customized compliance solutions for fleets of all sizes.

Part 395 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) defines how many hours a driver can continuously operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), and how many hours they must rest before driving again.

Incomplete or inaccurate HOS records are some of the most common issues identified in Department of Transportation (DOT) audits — and could result in some serious consequences.

Learn the Top 5 Issues Discovered During a Mock Audit

Does Part 395 apply to my drivers?

Part 395 defines maximum driving time for property-carrying and passenger-carrying vehicles. It contains many requirements and exemptions that further define a driver’s hours of service, some of which may exempt a driver from Part 395 altogether.

In general, drivers must not drive after being on duty for a certain number of hours and they must maintain accurate records of their on- and off-duty time. Part 395 also defines when and how driver records of duty should be kept.

§395.3 and §395.5 define the maximum driving times for property- and passenger-carrying vehicles. §395.1 provides specific exemptions from maximum driving time and certain record-keeping requirements. These exemptions include:

  • Adverse driving conditions
  • Emergency conditions
  • Driver-salespeople whose total driving time does not exceed 40 hours in any period of 7 consecutive days
  • Short-haul operations (150 air-mile radius of normal working location)
  • Operators of property-carrying commercial motor vehicles not requiring a commercial driver’s license
  • Retail store deliveries during the period from December 10 to December 25 every year
  • Operators driving property-carrying or passenger-carrying CMVs with sleeper berths and who use the sleeper berth to obtain off-duty time
  • Operators driving specially-constructed oil well servicing CMVs at a natural gas or oil well location with sleeper berths and who use the sleeper berth to obtain off-duty time
  • Operators in the State of Alaska
  • Operators in the State of Hawaii
  • Travel time (when operator is not driving or assuming any other responsibility to the carrier)
  • Agricultural operations within 150 air-miles from distribution point during planting and harvesting periods, as determined by each state
  • Ground water well drilling operations
  • Construction materials and equipment
  • Utility service vehicles
  • Property-carrying drivers under certain exemptions
  • Transportation to or from a motion picture production site
  • Operators attending CMVs containing Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 explosives
  • Railroad signal employees
  • Covered farm vehicles
  • Ready-mixed concrete delivery vehicles
  • Transportation of commercial bees, while bees are on the vehicle
  • Transportation of livestock, while livestock are on the vehicle
  • Hi-rail vehicles
  • Pipeline welding trucks

In these cases, Hours of Service regulations vary based on your company’s operations and your drivers’ current conditions. Learn more about the above exceptions and their definitions here.

What happens if a motor carrier violates Part 395?

A driver who operates past a total of 11 hours of drive time and/or 14 hours on duty and who doesn’t qualify for an exemption violates §395.3(a). Other issues that can lead to violation include:

  • ELD systems being used incorrectly
  • Failure to maintain accurate HOS records
  • Failure to record HOS when required
  • Falsifying HOS records

If your motor carrier or any of your drivers violates Part 395, you may face fines, penalties, or an order to stop operations. The average fine for a driver operating more than 14 hours on duty is $7,322.

Staying in compliance with Part 395

Complying with FMCSR Part 395 requires a robust record-keeping process and thorough training for your drivers.

FMCSA-approved methods of tracking HOS include:

  • Electronic logging device (ELD)
  • Manual recording on a specified grid
  • Simple time records
  • Automatic on-board recording device, when permitted

The motor carrier must maintain these records and supporting documents for six months and be able to produce them during a DOT audit.

Setting up and maintaining your record of duty processes is essential, and our experienced consultants at NTC can help. Our Fleet Safety Managed Services Program offers HOS auditing to highlight weak spots in your process, so you can fix them before you receive a violation.

If you need urgent help for HOS violations, our Enhanced Consultative Services Program can mitigate risk and get you operating safer, faster.

Get expert advice on DOT compliance, personalized for your fleet, drivers, and business. Contact us to schedule a consultation.