Hours of Service Rules Can Affect Day-use Trucking


By Ryan Camacho

For vocational fleets, the types of vehicles driven, the cargo hauled, and the distance traveled oftentimes translate to an exemption to complying with Hours of Service (HOS) rules. But there are many scenarios where work truck fleets must be mindful of HOS, and if you fall into this bucket, there are updates to the regulations and new technologies available in 2021 that can help you navigate the rules.

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Most fleets know that the Hours of Service (HoS) rules must be followed and met so that the organization stays compliant. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) came up with the Hours of Service rules to improve commercial vehicle safety on our nation’s highways. The Hours of Service regulations help ensure overall road safety by governing the number of hours truck drivers can drive. The rules dictate the maximum number of hours that operators can drive within a specific timeframe, provide details on mandatory break and rest times, and control duty cycles.

The Hours of Service regulations target most long-haul trucking companies with detailed restrictions for truck drivers. Specifically, the rules state that drivers may be on duty for up to 14 hours following 10 hours off duty, but they are limited to 11 hours of driving time. Plus, after driving for 8 hours, the driver must take a 30-minute break.

But what about day-use, vocational truckers? Do the Hours of Service rules apply to them? Yes, HoS rules apply to day-use vocational truckers in certain situations.

Are you transporting construction equipment? Using work trucks heavier than 10,000 lbs? Traveling more than 150 miles away from home base? Carrying hazardous cargo? Then keep reading.


Vocational fleets should pay attention to HOS rules governing “short haul.” Short-haul is classified as operators that drive only within a 150-air-mile radius, do not drive more than 11 hours at a time, and are entirely off-duty within 14 hours of the start of the workday. A new non-CDL short-haul exception for 2021 allows drivers to extend the 14-hour limit to 16 hours on two days in a consecutive seven-day period or after a 34-hour reset.

Short-haul drivers are subject to the limit of not driving more than 150 air miles from their home base and returning to that home base after driving for a day or 14 hours. The new ‘150 air mile’ rule exempts a driver with a commercial driver’s license from completing a daily log and having supporting documents. Still, carriers who employ these drivers must maintain records of drivers’ hours and duty times.

Sometimes drivers exceed their short-haul limits. When this happens, truck drivers must maintain a Record of Duty Status (RODS), a driver’s log of daily miles driven, including the 24-hour period starting time, contact information and carrier data, and duty status.

If the truck driver completes a RODS more often than eight days in 30 days, you will need to implement an ELD to prove your mileage and hours of service and avoid non-compliance. Many short-haul fleets have installed Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to ensure they do not violate any hours of service restrictions.


ELDs automatically record the distance covered, making it easier to calculate air-miles. Integrating your ELDs with a transportation management system (TMS) will give you visibility into how close you are to your mileage limit so you do not exceed the limit. Tracking trucks through an ELD or telematics system provides visibility into driver logs, driver performance, and navigation, increasing delivery efficiencies and customer satisfaction.

The number of miles driven is a significant factor in how truckers calculate profits. If you cross state lines, you are subject to IFTA taxes. IFTA is an agreement between all the US states except Alaska and Hawaii and most of the provinces/territories of Canada. This agreement establishes the concept of one fuel use license and one administering base jurisdiction for each licensee. The licensee’s base jurisdiction will be the administrator of this agreement and execute all the licensee provisions. These taxes can add to your profitability equation, so depending on how far you drive and if you cross state lines, your load might not be as profitable as you think.


If your load is over 10,000 lbs—including the truck itself—you will be subject to the Hours of Service regulations. A load of this size is also governed by Department of Transportation (DOT) heavy-haul regulations and limitations. Each state defines the maximum weight that can be legally transported across its bridges and roadways. If your truck exceeds the maximum weight of a bridge or road that you had planned to use, you will need to find another route, which can lead to more mileage and more time on the road.

According to the DOT, if a truck used for business has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,001 lbs or more, what hours-of-service limits apply?

  • The driver may drive up to 11 hours after having 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • The driver must go off-duty after 14 hours, after having 10 consecutive hours off duty (all-time counts against this 14-hour limit).
  • For a company that has vehicles operating every day, the driver may not exceed a total of 70 hours on-duty time in the current eight-day period. For a company that does not operate every day, the limit is 60 hours on duty in the current seven-day period.
  • Drivers using time records may drive up to 11 hours if they return to their work reporting location within 12 hours.


Whether you are a short-haul driver or a long-haul trucker, you are subject to FMCSA regulations and the Hazardous Materials Transportation Uniform Safety Act (HMTUSA). Carriers, including owner-operators, must be hazmat (Hazardous Materials) certified. Truckers should carry proof of operating authority, permits, safety rating, and years of experience. Operators must ensure that packages are correctly marked and labeled and free of damage and leaks. Packages must be secured to reduce movement in transport, and documentation must be compliant.

There is a distinct advantage of short-haul trucking jobs, such as driving shorter routes and returning home more often. Even if you are a short-haul carrier, you can benefit from using a transportation management system (TMS). Many of them are free of charge for use, so they are affordable. A TMS can monitor the number of hours and miles a trucker has driven to stay compliant with HoS rules.


Ryan Camacho is the director of strategy and business development at Axele. Find out more, visit

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