There’s no quicker way to start a conversation than to start building hypothetical scenarios in attempt to illustrate elements of the hours of service rules. Today, on this first full day with the new regs in place, a couple points about the rules in general as they pertain to those cumulative duty limitations I brought up in this linked post from last week. Before I updated it, I mistakenly left the impression that the 60 hours in 7 days (or, more commonly for interstate drivers 70 hours in 8 days) limitations were actual limits on duty time. Not so, noted reader Kevin E. Loomis, out in Washington State.
“The 60/7 and 70/8 isn’t about working, rather it’s about not being able to operate a CMV,” Loomis noted. The Code of Federal Regulations section where the cumulative-limits rules are contained is, after all, called Maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles. Driving time, not duty time. That’s section 49 CFR 395.3, and 395.3(b) and its subnotes are where the cumulative duty limitations are housed. It’s all conditioned like this: “No motor carrier shall permit or require a driver of a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle to drive, nor shall any driver drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, regardless of the number of motor carriers using the driver’s services, for any period after …” [emphasis mine]
…60 duty hours in a rolling 7-day period (for those whose companies don’t operate trucks every day of the week) or 70 duty hours in 8 days (for those whose companies do).
“Part 395 is about restricting drivers from operating a CMV who have fallen out of the rules that allow them to operate the said CMV, and not about ‘working'” overall, Loomis noted.
Joe Rajkovacz of the Western States Trucking Association provided a hypothetical (we’ll see how much conversation this one spawns) to illustrate the point.
Because the regs are about limiting drive hours as a safety precaution, it is possible to in fact exceed 70 duty hours in 8 days when recapping, not using the restart combined with maxing out drive hours (not possible in most real-world scenarios) as hypothetically illustrated in last week’s post, Rajkovacz pointed out. Say “you arrive at a receiver at your 69th hour and then log five hours” on-duty not driving during unload (if you’re getting paid for unloading — not detention — time by a carrier, he added, you better have shown that time logged on-duty or you’re putting the carrier, and yourself, at risk during an audit).
When you regain hours at midnight (say you’re getting back 10 from your first day in the eight-day period as it drops off) “the hours you’re picking up are simply subtracted from whatever your total on-duty time has been” over the previous consecutive eight days. In the scenario above, “the driver hit 74 on-duty hours but at midnight only picking up 10 means the cumulative for the next day is 64, leaving only 6 hours to drive for that day,” 5:45 or thereabouts if we account for a pre-trip.
Federal safety regs as written essentially could care less “if you burn your time unloading all day at Walmart,” Rajkovacz quipped. “Fundamentally, HOS rules are about when you can drive,” or otherwise cannot.