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Do Hours of Service Regulations Apply to My Fleet?

Hours of service (HOS) regulations ensure commercial vehicle operators are wide awake, alert, and prepared to react to safety threats that arise along their journey. 

A colleague recently asked a question about a prospect they are working with. The prospect’s catering company conducts local short hauls of 15 miles maximum per trip. They were curious about the applicability of HOS and electronic logging device regulations to their day-to-day business activities. 

In order to best assist the potential client, I suggested my colleague first work with the prospect to determine if the vehicle in question is, in fact a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).

What Qualifies as a Commercial Motor Vehicle?

A motor carrier and their driver(s) may need to follow the hours of service regulations if the drive a CMV under Part 390 of 49 CFR —FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY REGULATIONS; GENERAL.

A CMV is a truck or truck-tractor with a trailer that is involved in interstate commerce and:

(1) Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater; or

(2) Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or

(3) Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or

(4) Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and transported in a quantity requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary under 49 CFR, subtitle B, chapter I, subchapter C.

 Are Every CMV, Trip, and Driver Subject to HOS Regulations? 

A business would then confirm if their company might qualify for a HOS-specific exemption in Part 395 – HOURS OF SERVICE OF DRIVERS.

Let’s assume we’ve confirmed that the does not comply with any of the HOS exemptions as described on the Code of Federal Regulations page linked above. The next step is to confirm if the driver can take advantage of the ELD specific exemptions that are afforded to different types of operations when the ELD requirements that came into on December 18, 2017.

Specifically, the driver would be exempt from the ELD rulemaking if the driver:

  1. The driver is using paper record of duty status (RODS) no more than 8 days out of every 30-day period.

  2. Is a driveaway-towaway driver who transports empty vehicles intended for sale, lease, or repair, as long as the vehicle they are driving is part of the shipment.

  3. Operates a vehicle manufactured before the model year 2000.

If the driver meets these ELD specific exemptions, but is classified a CMV, he/she would not require an ELD, but would still have to comply with the hours of service requirements unless otherwise exempt.

For more advice on transport safety, compliance, and related matters, read my other articles in the Ask the Expert series.