Everything Your Fleet Needs to Know about Hours of Service (HOS)

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Hours of service, or HOS, can be tricky for fleets to manage, especially with regulation changes and tricky rules like sleeper berth provisions. But these regulations are some of the most important for fleets. Drivers are on the road nearly 60 hours a week, with inconsistent schedules and many types of distractions. One of the most detrimental effects is drowsy driving, which results in an average 328,000 accidents per year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

It’s facts like these that alter safety regulations and spark the creation of legislations such as the ELD mandate. This mandate by the FMCSA ensures that fleets are held accountable for the safety of their drivers and others on the road by requiring the implementation of ELD devices in all fleet vehicles.

ELD devices make it impossible to alter HOS logs—a common problem in the past. They also make it easier for fleets to avoid DOT violation fines and reduce the amount of paperwork drivers and administrators need to contend with. With such a big change, in an industry notorious for being technologically behind, there are a lot of questions. To untangle some of the confusion, read on. You’ll find everything you need to know about managing and tracking hours of service in your fleet below.

What are the Hours of Service Rules?

No one truly knows what sparked the first HOS Rules, but most widdle it down to the era they emerged from. It was a time filled with public outcry for more regulations to protect workers, especially during and after the Great Depression. Labor unions were also on the rise during that time. No matter how it started, it’s important to note there’s been very little change since the first regulations in 1935. After the passing of these regulations, drivers were able to work a cumulative 12 hours within a 15-hour period. There must be 3 cumulative hours of breaks and 9 hours of rest between shifts. There was also a cap of 60 hours on the road within a 7-day period.

Hours of service rules today were created in 2012 and implemented in 2018. There isn’t much difference between the original regulations and those of today. Drivers are now regulated to 11 hours within a 14-hour period. They must have a break every 8 hours and at least 10 hours between shifts. There are also sleeper berth provisions that provide drivers and fleet managers with more scheduling flexibility.

What are ELD Devices?

To ensure drivers and fleet managers remain compliant with these regulations, they must implement telematics or ELD devices into all vehicles. It’s the largest change to any regulation across the fleet industry. It’s also the most vital change and one that ensures accountability with more success than any other measure before. It’s been proven that inspections were not enough and it’s hard to ensure that numbers aren’t altered. Plus, paper logs are much more difficult to manage and even more difficult to ensure you don’t go over HOS limits while you’re out on the road.

ELD devices solve both of these problems by monitoring vehicle diagnostics in real-time. The devices then relay that information via satellite and cloud-based technology. It syncs with fleet management software to provide both drivers and managers accurate readings of vehicle issues, handling, idling, and run time. This software compiles this data in a central database where it is analyzed to create alerts, utilization reports, HOS logs, and more.

General Guidelines for Hours of Service Rules

One of the most challenging things about hours of service rules is there are slightly different rules between passenger-carrying fleets and cargo-carrying fleets. There are also differences in regulations between service areas and national fleets. To make matters worse, these rules and regulations will even vary state to state. You’ll notice this difference immediately with weigh stations across the country where most inspections of HOS compliance take place. You don’t have to stop at weigh stations in every state and the weight requirements may be different from place to place. Because of the lack of uniformity, there can be a little confusion. However, there are some general guidelines you can follow. While you must know the regulations that apply to your fleet, sticking true to the following can help ensure you remain compliant at all times.

Here are the guidelines:

  • All drivers must have 10 hours between shifts
  • Drivers may only work 60 hours per 7-day period; but drivers may work up to 70 hours within an 8-day period
  • Drivers are limited to 11 hours of driving within a 14-hour period
  • Drivers must take a minimum of 30 minutes off-duty after an 8-hour driving period
  • A reset of hours occurs after 34 hours of consecutive rest; a new work week begins from that point
  • All hours must be logged in real-time

It’s important to note there are exceptions to the guidelines above:

  • The 16-hour exemption: Drivers may work 16 consecutive hours if they only work one day a week. If so, they must begin and end their route at the same location.
  • The 30-minute break exemption: Short-haul drivers that work within a 150 mile radius are exempt from this rule.
  • Adverse driving conditions exemption: The 11-hour driving limit may extend to 13 hours in adverse conditions. The driver can’t have known about these conditions prior to their shift and they must still finish driving within a 15-hour period.
  • Emergency conditions exemption: HOS rules may be temporarily suspended in the case of a federal or state declared emergency.
  • Sleeper berth provision: This is less of an exemption and more a work around the rules. As part of the HOS, drivers must take 10 hours off-duty or in their sleeper berth between shifts. The new provision allows drivers to split these hours into a 2-hour break and an 8-hour break. It does not matter which you take first, so long as they are consecutive hours.

Hours of Service Violation Penalties

Failing to comply with hours of service rules can have a detrimental effect on your fleet. It’s nearly impossible to get away with failure to comply since all fleets face inspections—whether it be roadside, at a weigh station, or regulated annual inspections. This compliance failure may result in:

  • Placement out of service which may result in delivery delays.
  • ELD violation fines around $1,200 per day.
  • Additional CSA score points which could result in higher insurance premiums, a damaged reputation, and lost clientele.
  • Additional penalties for fleets that knowingly violate these regulations.
  • Complete shutdown of a carrier if penalties are severe and carriers don’t make efforts to resolve issues.
  • If a driver gets into an accident while having HOS overages, that driver may face jail time or cause the company millions in losses.

How to Avoid HOS Violations

Understanding HOS rules is the first step in avoiding violations. But it’s not enough for the fleet manager to know these rules. The entire fleet needs to know them as well. The next step is to ensure that you have an authorized ELD device in all of your fleet vehicles. After these initial steps, there are more comprehensive measures you can take.

Route Optimization

By optimizing your routes, drivers are taking the fastest path to their destination. This means they are less likely to miss their delivery times or overages in their hours of service. Also, by optimizing routes, you can preplan rest stops, gas refills, and sleep breaks. This means that both you and the driver know in advance the likelihood of hitting HOS targets.

Utilize exemptions

When you know the rules, it’s easier to work around them. For instance, if your drivers are nearing their 60 hours for the week, consider giving them 34 consecutive hours off before sending them on their next trip. You can also utilize the sleeper berth provision as a quicker solution while drivers are still on the road.

Fleet vehicle maintenance

It’s very common that vehicle down-time causes a domino effect of non-compliance with HOS provisions. Drivers may feel rushed to reach delivery times and therefore may miss their 30-minute break or drive overtime. Preventative maintenance allows you to make repairs before these become major issues with a lot of downtime. You should also consider shorter vehicle lifecycles, maintenance alerts, and more thorough DVIRs.

Telematics & fleet management software

Telematics devices are similar to ELDs, except they include more features such as route optimization, maintenance alerts and scheduling, fuel card integration, and more. They simply connect to your vehicle’s OBD-II port and then relay the real-time data from your vehicle’s engine to your fleet management software. You’ll not only receive accurate HOS logs, but you’ll also receive alerts to warn you when drivers approach limits. Fleet managers can also receive utilization and idling reports, as well as an easy-to-read dashboard with accurate real-time data that helps you make decisions about your fleet.

Learn more about fleet management software and telematics at Azuga.

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What is the Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax?

The vehicle miles traveled tax is known by multiple names: the mileage tax, road usage charging (RUC), distance-based user fees (DBUF), vehicle miles traveled tax (VMTT), or mileage-based user fees (MBUF). It is simply a tax based on how many miles a driver travels. It is an excellent option to replace the gas tax as a means to fund the Highway Trust Fund. This fund is how our nation pays for maintaining and building infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, and tunnels.  

Why Do We Need the Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax?

The gas tax is an antiquated way of funding our infrastructure and has been inadequate for over a decade. It has not kept up with inflation in the last 25 years, causing it to drop in value by over 40%. In the last quarter-century, traffic has only increased as the population has grown. The wear and tear on our infrastructure worsens, but our ability to maintain it can’t keep up. 

Furthermore, electric and fuel-efficient cars pay very little, if any, gas tax. They still use the roads and contribute to their degradation, but the drivers do not help pay for their upkeep. While electric and fuel-efficient vehicles are better for the environment, it is still important that these drivers pay their fair share of taxes for the roads. 

How Would We Implement the Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax? 

This tax is already in place in Oregon and Utah on an opt-in basis. Washington, Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, California, Delaware, and Pennsylvania have researched road usage charging programs in their states with success. Oregon’s fully functioning road usage charging program, OReGO, is the leading example of how to implement a mileage tax nationwide. 

OReGO uses Azuga Insight to automatically track driver miles and collect revenue without any staff needed or driver intervention. Drivers simply install hardware into their OBD port and set up a wallet online. As they drive, Azuga Insight tracks their miles and removes funds automatically from the wallet. 

Participation in OReGO is optional, but drivers have the incentive of not having to pay increased registration fees based on mpg rating. Drivers who opt-in have to meet these vehicle requirements: 

  • Light-duty
  • 20 miles-per-gallon or better rating
  • Registered to an Oregon resident

OReGO has been implemented smoothly and is easy to sustain. 

Benefits of the Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax

Safer

Roads in poor condition cause 14,000 highway fatalities annually. It’s necessary for communities everywhere to obtain the funding to repair and maintain their roads. Streets all over the country are aging rapidly, and more funding in the Highway Trust Fund would help us stay on top of maintenance before more fatalities happen. 

Fairer

Most drivers will pay the same as they are currently paying under the gas tax, but all drivers will be paying instead of just some. This means that electric vehicles and fuel-efficient vehicles will contribute their fair share as well. Everyone pays for what they use, so drivers who don’t drive very much won’t have to worry about paying very much.

More Funding

Experts believe that implementing a vehicle miles traveled tax across the US would increase the Highway Trust Fund by $340 million. This would fund improvements to existing infrastructure, along with new infrastructure for areas that have grown in the past 25 years. 

Conclusion

The vehicle miles traveled tax is the most likely solution to the issue of our country’s crumbling infrastructure. It may be a long time before it is implemented across the nation, but as states pick it up, it is important to know what it is and how it will affect you. To keep up with the latest updates regarding the vehicle miles traveled tax, follow Azuga Insight’s blog.

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What is Fleet Data?

Tracking fleet data is vitally important to running a fleet in any industry. Any kind of data can be tracked, from where vehicles are, to what assets a company has on hand, to the safety of drivers and vehicles. All of this information is important for fleet managers to know to make their fleet effective and productive. What is fleet data, and how can it help fleets be more effective?

Fleet Data for Vehicle Maintenance

Keeping up with vehicle maintenance is one of the best ways to keep vehicles on the road for the long haul. With how much time fleets spend driving, wear and tear on a vehicle is inevitable, but fleet managers can reduce this by harnessing telematics and maintenance alerts. Telematics can tell managers when a vehicle has engine trouble or when a driver is being rough on the brakes or idling too much. Managers can also set up maintenance alerts so they do not have to try and remember when each vehicle needs routine maintenance. Preventative maintenance is crucial to a vehicle’s longevity and will help it stay on the road for years to come. 

Fleet Data for Safety

Any fleet’s top priority is safety. Drivers and vehicles are integral to a fleet business’s entire operation, and ensuring that they do their jobs safely is a huge part of a fleet manager’s job. Luckily fleet data can track driver behavior and determine if drivers are behaving safely behind the wheel. Telematics can track actions such as hard braking, rapid acceleration, distracted driving, and speeding. When drivers display any of these behaviors, they will receive an alert. If the behaviors continue, the system will alert the fleet manager, who can then choose to get in touch with the driver. Accidents can cost thousands of dollars, and days of lost time for businesses, so avoiding them is crucial for companies to succeed. 

Fleet Data for Asset Tracking

Asset tracking is terrific for preventing theft, but it is also ideal for fleet managers to keep track of what they have on hand in their warehouse. Often, assets and equipment sit unused in a warehouse, taking up space that something practical could be occupying. With asset data, fleet managers can determine what assets the fleet does not use and get rid of them, making room for something that will be more beneficial for the company. Furthermore, knowing what’s on hand prevents double-purchasing, which saves the company money as well. 

Conclusion

Tracking fleet data is essential for keeping a fleet productive and effective. It is all part of a fleet manager’s job. Luckily, Azuga has many tools to help with tracking fleet data. Reach out to the experts at Azuga today to find out how to get started gathering data today so that you can do the best for your fleet.


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Record of Duty Status

Each driver is required by the law to record a driver’s duty of status every 24 hours, using the structures stipulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). A record of duty status (RODS) can also be referred to as a driver’s log. It allows drivers to record details such as date, vehicle number, totals driving hours, the total number of miles driven within 24 hours, carrier’s name, a 24-hour period starting time, address, driver’s certification/signature, and remarks. 

Records can be maintained using an electronic logging device (ELD), using an FMCSA approved automatic on-board recording gadget, or even manually on a grid. Logs must be validated at all times by indicating each change in a duty status.

Exemptions to Record of Duty Status

A RODS is mandatory as part of Hours of Service (HOS) rules, which applies to commercial vehicles (CMVs). However, a few cases of short-haul carriers are exempt from maintaining records of duty status. 

Company policies may be different, but the FMCSA only expects drivers to record time and location after every stop.

Since the introduction of the ELD mandate, several motor carriers are leaning toward electronic logging devices to maintain their records of duty status automatically. Companies were given until December 16, 2019 to update automatic on-board recording devices to the latest ones, meaning there were also some exemptions to the ELD Rule.

Exemptions to RODS regulations include the following:

  • Drivers driving within a radius of 150 air-miles
  • Drivers of CMVs driving within a radius of 150 air-miles, who do not need a CDL, and at the same time operate within a radius of 150 air-miles of their daily reporting locations.

For drivers to qualify for the exemption, they must meet all the requirements stated by the regulations. Failure to meet even one of the requirements means all HOS rules apply.

Electronic Logging Devices

A driver must produce ELD records when requested by a safety official, either immediately, or within the permissible time if the motor carrier operates from more than one terminal or office. A motor carrier is supposed to retain a back-up copy of all ELD records for at least six months.

Only carriers or drivers falling under the exempted categories may use other recording methods, which may include automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) to maintain driver record of duty status.

Submitting and Retaining Driver Record of Duty Status Paper Logs

Being exempted from the ELD rule does not mean you are automatically exempted from the HOS regulations. A driver is required to submit original paper log sheets to their respective carriers within 13 days after the completion of their trips. The driver retains a copy of all RODS for the previous seven days, which must be produced on request for inspection at the time they are on duty. Drivers must also sign all hard copies of RODS.

Electronic HOS Regulations

The idea behind mandating the ELD rules was to provide accurate, consistent, and accessible methods of logging driver hours of service, and simultaneously create a safer working environment. The new measures were intended to ensure drivers took necessary breaks and rested appropriately, and to ensure they remained alert while driving. Making the switch from manual processes like logbooks to electronic hours of service tools makes it easier for businesses to keep up with the FMCSA requirements.

However, the implementation of electronic logging devices does not change the fleet manager’s responsibility to track off duty or driving hours. What it does require is that you make use of a log tracking device and software system.

Who Should Comply with ELD HOS Logging?

The HOS rules apply to drivers operating CMVs such as school buses and semi-trucks. For a vehicle to be classified as a CMV, it must fulfil the following:

  • Weigh above 10,000 pounds
  • Have a combined weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 10,000 pounds
  • Be used for transporting 16 or more persons, including the driver, or nine or more passengers for commercial transport purposes
  • Transport goods classified as hazardous and require placards

If a vehicle meets the qualifications above, it is required by the law to comply with HOS regulations and to maintain decent hours of service log. 

Common Hours of Service Violations - And How to Fix Them

Besides ordinary traffic violations and unsafe driving, it is common among drivers to fail to comply with HOS regulations. Hours of Service compliance counts as one of the core basics of CSA, and maintaining a low score is often a result of piling frustrations.

The ability to fix problems associated with hours of service is the most crucial way to keep safety scores in check, and helps in controlling the frequency of roadside inspections.

Below are the most common violations of Hours of Service and how you can fix them.

Clerical Form Errors

When entering data manually, issues like mathematical errors, poor handwriting, the omission of essential information, and many other mistakes, may arise. These are issues that can be minimized by implementing an electronic system that automatically fills in the required data when it is needed. Tired drivers can easily leave out essential data, which could be deemed a violation of the hours of service regulations.

Not Updating Statuses

The driver record of duty status graph shown on a log must always be up to date, showing each detail of changes. Forgetting, or simply failing to update duty status is common among drivers and leads to severe roadside inspections. It is mostly due to drivers failing on their mandate to remain vigilant by changing statuses.

It is easy to fix this recurring problem with the simple touch of a screen. All drivers have to do is to indicate the time their shifts start, and to change their status to off-duty when shifts end. Electronic logbooks are designed to detect when a vehicle is stationary or in motion, and gives accurate data at all times.

No Records of Duty Status

Failing to properly maintain your RODS and not maintaining logs for seven days is a violation that can lead to hefty fines. Drivers of companies running smaller vehicles may not be aware of what is required of them, but they must check with the relevant authorities. Inspectors ask for records of the previous seven days. Therefore, drivers must not misplace any record whatsoever.

Partner with Azuga for FMCSA Compliance

Azuga works with you to deliver customized solutions for fleets and drivers. It doesn’t matter the size of your fleet, Azuga offers the right products and technology to duly maintain drivers’ records of duty status and keep you compliant with the hours of service regulations.

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