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What is the 34-Hour Restart Rule? Understanding the Regulations for Commercial Drivers

When it comes to commercial trucking, there are a lot of rules and regulations to follow, and for good reason. These rules serve an important purpose in keeping supply chains running smoothly and everyone on the roads safe.

Some of the most important rules regard the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These regulations are designed to prevent fatigue-related accidents by setting strict limits for the amount of time a driver can spend on the road without adequate rest. 

Read on to learn more about the HOS regulations and specifically the 34-Hour Restart Rule that only applies to certain industries.

Understanding Hours of Service Regulations

To fully understand the 34-hour reset rule we must take a quick look at the full HOS regulations. The FMCSA Hours of Service regulation, its purpose, key components, and how it impacts drivers and fleet managers alike. Whether you are a seasoned industry professional or a newcomer seeking to grasp the fundamentals, this guide will equip you with the knowledge necessary to adhere to these essential regulations and promote a safer commercial driving environment.

The primary objective of the FMCSA Hours of Service regulation is to combat driver fatigue, which is one of the leading causes of commercial vehicle accidents. By establishing guidelines for the maximum amount of time a driver can operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and the required rest periods, these regulations aim to minimize fatigue-related incidents and enhance overall road safety. It is important to be aware of the different HOS final rule a commercial driver adheres to. 

The 4 Hours of Service Statuses: 

      • Off Duty: The driver isn’t working.
      • Sleeper Berth: The driver is resting in the sleeper berth of their cab. 
      • On Duty: The driver is working, but isn’t driving (fueling, inspecting, unloading, etc.)
      • Driving: The driver is driving. (ELDs automatically record drive time after the vehicle in motion exceeds 5 mph).

The 2 Key Components of FMCSA Hours of Service Regulation:

1.  Maximum Driving Hours: According to the regulation, drivers are limited in the number of hours they can drive continuously. The specific limits are as follows:

      • 11-Hour Driving Limit: Drivers may not drive more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
      • 14-Hour On-Duty Limit: Drivers may not work more than 14 hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
      • Rest Breaks: Drivers must take a 30-minute break within the first 8 hours of coming on duty.

2.  Daily and Weekly Driving Limits: In a 7/8-day workweek, drivers may not drive for more than 60/70 hours, respectively. After reaching these limits, drivers must take a “restart” period to reset their weekly work hours.

To enforce compliance with HOS regulations more effectively, the FMCSA mandates the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) for recording drivers’ hours. ELDs accurately track driving time, on-duty hours, and rest periods, eliminating the need for manual paper logs and reducing instances of falsification.

The 34-Hours Restart Rule Explained

Navigating the complex web of regulations governing commercial driving can be a challenging task, especially for fleet managers responsible for ensuring compliance among their drivers. Among the critical regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the “34-Hour Restart Rule” holds particular significance for maintaining road safety and preventing driver fatigue.

The 34-hour reset, also known as the “34-Hour Restart Rule,” is a provision within the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Hours of Service (HOS) regulations that allows commercial drivers to reset their weekly driving limits. It permits drivers to restart their 7/8-day workweek after taking at least 34 consecutive hours off duty. The 34-hour reset is an essential component of the HOS regulations, and its importance lies in promoting driver rest, preventing fatigue, and ensuring road safety.

When followed correctly, the 34-hour restart rule can contribute to road safety in the following ways:

      • Rested and Alert Drivers: By providing drivers with at least 34 consecutive hours off duty, the rule allows them to rest and recover, reducing the risk of fatigue. Rested and alert drivers are better equipped to handle the challenges of the road and react promptly to potential hazards.
      • Prevention of Cycle Pushing: Before the implementation of the 34-hour restart rule, some drivers might have attempted to maximize their driving hours by taking shorter rest periods, a practice known as “cycle pushing.” This could lead to operating on insufficient sleep, negatively impacting driver performance. The 34-hour restart rule helps prevent cycle pushing by mandating a more extended and consistent rest period.
      • Compliance with Driving Limits: The rule ensures that drivers adhere to the weekly driving limits set by the HOS regulations. By resetting their workweek after 34 hours off duty, drivers can start their new workweek with a fresh set of available driving hours, promoting compliance with driving limits and preventing excessive driving.
      • Safety Benefits for All Road Users: When drivers are well-rested and comply with HOS regulations, the overall safety of the commercial transportation industry is improved. This not only protects the drivers themselves but also benefits other motorists, pedestrians, and passengers on the road.

It’s important to note that the effectiveness of the 34-hour restart rule depends on drivers and fleet managers taking the regulation seriously and ensuring its proper implementation. Overall, the 34-hour restart rule is an important component of the FMCSA’s efforts to enhance safety in the commercial driving industry. When followed appropriately, it can help reduce the risks associated with driver fatigue and contribute to a safer transportation environment for everyone on the road.

How to Calculate the 34-hour Rule Restart 

To calculate the 34-hour restart under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, you need to ensure that a commercial driver has taken at least 34 consecutive hours off duty before starting a new workweek. Here’s a step-by-step guide to calculating the 34-hour restart:

      • Determine the Start Time: Identify the point at which the driver’s last 34-hour off-duty period begins. This is usually the time when the driver goes off duty after completing their previous workweek.
      • Count 34 Consecutive Hours: Count 34 consecutive hours from the start time identified in Step 1. The driver must remain off duty for the entire 34-hour period without performing any work-related tasks.
      • Confirm Restart Eligibility:  Ensure that the driver has completed the full 34-hour off-duty period without any interruptions or violations of the HOS regulations. If the driver has not taken the full 34 hours off duty, they are not eligible for the restart.
      • Start the New Workweek:  After completing the 34-hour off-duty period, the driver can start their new workweek with a fresh set of available driving hours.

In reality, Electronic logging devices should be able to automatically calculate the 34-hour restart. Drivers should keep accurate records of their hours of service using Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to ensure compliance with the 34-hour restart rule and all other HOS regulations.

Tips for Complying With the 34-Hour Restart Rule

With all HOS regulations, it is imperative to accurately record all on-duty and off-duty time per FMCSA guidelines. Failure to comply with FMCSA HOS regulations and the 34-hour restart rule may result in HOS violations such as: 

      • Insufficient Rest Period: If a commercial driver fails to take a full 34 consecutive hours off duty before starting a new workweek, they would be in violation of the 34-hour restart rule. This means that the driver did not have enough rest time to reset their weekly driving limits.
      • Restart Within a Workweek: The 34-hour restart rule specifies that a driver can only use the restart once every 168 hours (7 days). Violating this provision by attempting to take multiple restarts within the same workweek would be a violation.
      • Use of Improper Documentation: If a driver fails to maintain accurate and appropriate records of their hours of service, including the 34-hour restart, it can result in violations. Proper record-keeping, either through Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) or other approved methods, is essential for compliance with the HOS regulations.

A good way to ensure your fleet compliance is by performing regular compliance reviews. Compliance reviews are necessary to safeguard road safety, prevent accidents, hold carriers and drivers accountable, and promote proactive safety measures within the commercial transportation industry. Through these assessments, regulatory agencies can enforce safety regulations, identify areas of improvement, and work towards creating a safer and more reliable transportation environment for everyone involved

It’s essential for both drivers and fleet managers to be vigilant in ensuring compliance with the 34-hour restart rule to avoid potential violations. Violations of the HOS regulations can lead to penalties, fines, and impacts on the driver’s safety record.

Keep in mind that regulations and rules are subject to change over time. Therefore, it’s crucial to check the latest FMCSA guidelines and updates for the most accurate and up-to-date information on the 34-hour restart rule and other HOS regulations to maintain compliance and safety within the commercial transportation industry.

Learn more about fleet compliance and the 34-hour restart rule contact Konexial today! 

Konexial provides superb technology to the transportation industry through the TPaaS (transportation platform as a service) model featuring fleet management, video, and safety management, asset tracking, fuel savings programs, and more.

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865-888-MY20 (6920)