What is HOS? A guide to hours of service FMCSA regulations


For those new to the transportation industry, HOS hours can be confusing. They’re not as simple as clocking in and out of an 8-hour shift. And HOS compliance necessitates using a technology most people outside of the trucking industry have never heard of before – ELDs.

This guide will give newcomers a quick, easy-to-understand overview of what HOS FMCSA regulations are, how to stay compliant with them, and what happens when they’re violated.


What HOS FMCSA regulations are

The first thing to know is what kind of drivers don’t need to use ELDs to track their FMCSA compliance. Most importantly, drivers who don’t drive outside of a 150-mile radius during a day’s work don’t need to install ELDs in their vehicles. That includes most last-mile delivery and local services.

Drivers who will drive outside of a 150-mile radius need to install an ELD in their vehicle. These are the long-haul truck drivers and others who spend long hours on highways, delivering across states and even across national borders.

ELDs are “Electronic Logging Devices.” They’re plugged into vehicle OBD ports and automatically record every minute that a vehicle’s engine is on.

Drivers use ELD logging mobile apps and/or paper logbooks to match their ELD’s records with their duty status. There are four different duty statuses they can choose from:

  • Driving: Driving hours are when drivers are behind the wheel and their engine is on.
  • On: On hours are when drivers are working but not driving.
  • Sleeper Berth: Sleeper berth hours are when drivers aren’t driving or working but are in their vehicle’s sleeper berth.
  • Off: Off hours are when drivers are off the clock, not working.

The amount of time drivers are allowed to spend “Driving” varies according to a number of factors. It’s best to consult the FMCSA’s own helpful guide.


The consequences of violating FMCSA regulations

Both carriers and drivers can suffer burdensome, expensive consequences for violating HOS regulations.

When a DOT officer finds a driver who is not in compliance with HOS, they have the power to force a truck to sit roadside for up to 34 hours. This will push schedules back, delay deliveries, and potentially spoil climate or time-sensitive shipments.

Both drivers and carriers might be responsible for paying stiff fines for HOS violations. These fines can range anywhere from $1,000 to $16,000 for a single violation. Repeated violations will negatively impact a carrier’s safety rating, which can lead to on-site investigations and cascading sanctions.

When a single violation can easily set a carrier back by $10,000 and multiple violations can risk the future of an entire business, it’s not just important to keep drivers compliant – it can be the difference between success and bankruptcy.


Tools to increase compliance with HOS FMCSA regulations

Fortunately, FleetUp provides tools that help fleet operations reduce their fines to the absolute minimum. These are three of the many powerful HOS tools FleetUp offers:

  1. HOS voice assistant: Drivers deal with multiple responsibilities, unpredictable traffic, long lines at loading docks, and more. In the midst of the daily chaos, it’s easy for them to lose track of how many more driving hours they have before they have to get off the road. An HOS voice assistant warns drivers when it’s time to start thinking about wrapping up their workday.
  2. Automated log error alerts: HOS rules are complicated. It’s easy for tired and distracted workers to make simple mistakes. Log error alerts review every hour drivers enter, notifying drivers when they find possible inaccuracies. Drivers then have an opportunity to review and correct any errors they made.
  3. Real-time HOS status for managers: FleetUp’s advanced map shows the location of every vehicle in a manager’s fleet. By clicking a vehicle’s icon, the manager can check that driver’s HOS status in real time. It’s a simple, intuitive, and fast way to stay on top of every employee, no matter where they are.

Reduce FMCSA fines – get FleetUp

FMCSA fines rack up quickly. In an industry with thin margins, a few irresponsible drivers can make it much more difficult to maintain a healthy balance sheet. Keep your drivers compliant with the industry’s most comprehensive fleet software.

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