Hours of Service Violations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established hours of service regulations to limit the number of hours a driver can operate a commercial vehicle in a day. These federal motor carrier safety regulations are crucial for the safety of both drivers and other motorists on the road. However, some truck drivers and trucking companies attempt to cover up hours of service violations, risking the safety of everyone on the road. In this article, we will explore how truck drivers and trucking companies cover up dot hours of service violations and the consequences they may face.

What are Hours of Service Violations?

Hours of service (HOS) regulations were created to prevent commercial vehicle drivers from operating their vehicles for extended periods without adequate rest. These regulations reduce the risk of fatigue-related crashes, which can have severe consequences for both the driver and other motorists.

According to the FMCSA, the current HOS regulations for property-carrying commercial vehicle drivers state that:

  • Drivers cannot drive more than 11 hours in a consecutive 14-hour period.
  • Drivers must take a 30-minute break after 8 hours of consecutive driving.
  • Drivers are limited to 60 hours on duty in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours on duty in 8 consecutive days.

Drivers must accurately log their hours of service in a record of duty status (RODS) to ensure compliance with these regulations.

Understanding the Importance of HOS Regulations

The primary purpose of HOS regulations is to ensure that drivers have adequate rest to perform their duties safely. Fatigue is a major factor in many road accidents, and truck drivers are especially vulnerable due to the long distances they travel. These regulations are designed not only to protect the drivers but also to protect the public by reducing the number of fatigue-related accidents on the road.

The Role of the FMCSA in Enforcing HOS Rules

The FMCSA regulates and provides safety oversight of commercial motor vehicles. The agency enforces HOS rules through roadside inspections, audits, and investigations. When drivers or companies are found to violate HOS regulations, the FMCSA can issue fines, place drivers or vehicles out of service, and, in severe cases, revoke operating authority.

The Impact of Fatigue on Driving Ability

Fatigue can significantly impair a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. It can lead to slower reaction times, decreased vigilance, impaired judgment, and increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel. For commercial vehicle drivers, who often drive large trucks or buses, the consequences of fatigue can be catastrophic, potentially leading to large-scale accidents and loss of life.

How Do Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies Cover Up Hours of Service Violations?

Omitting Hours

Some drivers may omit certain hours of service from their logs, such as time spent waiting at loading docks, to reduce the total number of hours recorded on duty. This allows them to drive longer than allowed under HOS regulations without it being apparent in their logs.

Using Duplicate Logbooks

A more blatant method is the use of duplicate logbooks, where drivers maintain two sets of records: one accurate and another shown to inspectors or auditors. This allows them to conceal their actual hours of service while presenting falsified compliance.

Editing Electronic Logs

Electronic logs have become increasingly popular in recent years as they provide a more accurate and tamper-proof way of tracking hours of service. However, some trucking companies may still attempt to edit or falsify electronic logs to avoid penalties for HOS violations. This can be done by changing the date or time stamps on the logs or manually adjusting the hours recorded.

Exploiting System Vulnerabilities

Some electronic logging devices (ELDs) may have vulnerabilities that allow users to edit logs after the fact. Dishonest drivers or companies can exploit these vulnerabilities to alter records and hide violations.

Unauthorized Access to ELDs

There have been instances where individuals with the technical know-how gain unauthorized access to ELDs to alter or erase records. This type of tampering can be difficult to detect and lead to significant HOS violations going unnoticed.

Using Unauthorized ELD Devices

Some companies may use ELDs that are not compliant with FMCSA standards. These unauthorized devices may allow for easier manipulation of logs, making it simpler for drivers to falsify their hours of service without detection.

Swapping Driver Identification

Drivers may swap their identification with each other to spread out hours driven and avoid reaching HOS limits. This is often done in team driving scenarios where two drivers share the driving but report hours under one identity to circumvent regulations.

Using Stolen Credentials

Some drivers resort to using stolen credentials to log into ELD systems. This allows them to drive under someone else’s name, making it harder for authorities to trace HOS violations back to the correct individual.

Fake Driver’s Licenses

Obtaining and using a fake driver’s license is another extreme measure taken to conceal one’s identity and HOS violations. This illegal practice can lead to severe legal consequences if discovered.

Consequences of Hours of Service Violations


The primary reason for HOS regulations is to prevent fatigue-related crashes. When truck drivers and trucking companies cover up HOS violations, they increase the risk of road crashes. Fatigue can impair a driver’s ability to react quickly and make safe decisions, leading to accidents that can cause serious injuries or even death.

Severity of Fatigue-Related Crashes

Fatigue-related crashes are often severe due to the size and weight of commercial vehicles. When a fatigued driver loses control of a truck, the resulting accidents can involve multiple vehicles and lead to significant property damage, severe injuries, and fatalities.

Impact on Other Road Users

When truck drivers violate HOS regulations and drive while fatigued, they put themselves at risk and endanger other road users. Passenger vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians can all become victims of a fatigue-related crash involving a large commercial vehicle.


Long-Term Consequences for Victims

Victims of crashes caused by HOS violations can suffer long-term consequences, including chronic pain, disability, and psychological trauma. These impacts extend beyond the accident’s immediate aftermath and can affect victims and their families for years to come.

DOT Fines for Hours of Service Violations

The FMCSA takes HOS violations very seriously and has strict penalties for drivers and companies found violating these regulations. Drivers can face fines of up to $1,000 to $11,000 for each offense, and companies can face fines of up to $16,000 per violation. These fines can add up quickly and significantly impact a driver’s or company’s finances.

Penalties for Falsifying Records

Falsifying HOS records is a violation that can lead to additional fines and penalties. Drivers caught falsifying records may face higher fines, and repeat offenders can be subject to increased scrutiny and more severe penalties.

Impact on Insurance Premiums

Violations of HOS regulations can also lead to increased insurance premiums for both drivers and trucking companies. Insurers view HOS violations as an indicator of risky behavior, which can result in higher costs to insure vehicles and drivers.

Consequences for Safety Ratings

HOS violations can negatively impact a company’s safety rating, affecting its ability to secure contracts and operate profitably. A poor safety rating due to HOS violations can lead to a loss of business and damage a company’s competitive standing in the industry.

Damage to Reputation

HOS violations can also negatively impact a driver’s or company’s reputation. If a driver is consistently found violating HOS regulations, it can call into question their ability to operate safely and responsibly. This can lead to difficulty finding work and damage to a company’s credibility and trustworthiness.

Public Perception and Trust

When news of HOS violations becomes public, it can lead to negative perceptions of the involved drivers or companies. The public may lose trust in these entities’ ability to safely transport goods, which can have a lasting impact on their reputation.

Effects on Driver Recruitment and Retention

Companies with a history of HOS violations may find recruiting and retaining quality drivers challenging. Prospective drivers may be hesitant to work for a company with a poor safety record, and current drivers may seek employment elsewhere if they feel pressured to violate regulations.

Social Media and Online Reviews

In today’s digital age, social media and online reviews can quickly spread information about a company’s HOS violations. Negative reviews and social media posts can reach a wide audience and impact a company’s image and ability to attract customers.

Suspension of License or Shutdown of Company

For repeat offenders or those with significant HOS violations, the FMCSA may suspend a driver’s commercial driver’s license (CDL) or even shut down a company’s operations. This can have devastating consequences for the driver, their livelihood, and the company and its employees.

Impact on Individual Drivers

The suspension of a CDL can prevent a driver from working in the commercial driving industry, which can significantly impact their income and career prospects. In some cases, drivers may have to seek employment in a different field, which can be difficult without relevant experience.

Consequences for Trucking Companies

A company shutdown due to HOS violations can lead to job losses for employees, financial losses for the company, and disruptions in the supply chain. Customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders can feel the ripple effects of a company shutdown.

Legal Ramifications

In addition to FMCSA penalties, drivers and companies may face legal action from individuals or entities affected by their actions. This can include civil lawsuits for damages resulting from crashes or other regulatory penalties imposed by state or local authorities.

How to Ensure Compliance with HOS Regulations

Truck drivers and companies must follow the FMCSA regulations to avoid the risks and consequences of HOS violations. This includes accurately recording hours of service and ensuring drivers get sufficient rest between shifts.

Utilizing Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

Using ELDs is one of the most effective ways to ensure compliance with HOS regulations. These devices automatically record driving time, making it harder for drivers to falsify their hours and easier for companies to monitor compliance.

Fleet Management Software

Fleet management software is a tool motor carriers use to monitor and manage their fleet of vehicles efficiently. It helps track vehicle locations, maintenance schedules, fuel usage, and driver behavior.

Fleet management software plays a crucial role in complying with hours of service (HOS) regulations. It can assist motor carriers in ensuring that their drivers adhere to HOS rules by providing real-time visibility into driver activities, including driving hours, rest periods, and compliance with regulations.

Motor carriers can use fleet management software to monitor driver schedules, track hours of service, and receive alerts for potential violations. This proactive approach helps prevent HOS violations, reducing the risk of fines, penalties, and negative consequences associated with non-compliance.

Overall, fleet management software enhances operational efficiency, promotes safety, and aids motor carriers in maintaining compliance with HOS regulations, ultimately contributing to a safer and more efficient transportation operation.

Importance of Hiring an Attorney When Injured By A Fatigued Truck Driver

Hiring a lawyer when injured in a crash caused by a tractor-trailer is crucial for various reasons. A lawyer specializing in trucking cases possesses intricate knowledge of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), specific to commercial trucking operations. This allows the lawyer to conduct aggressive discovery to identify the root cause of the crash and any hours of service violations committed by the truck driver and the company.

By engaging in thorough discovery, a specialized trucking lawyer can gather evidence, such as driver logs, electronic logging device (ELD) data, maintenance records, and other relevant information, to build a strong case. This can help prove liability and seek appropriate compensation for the victim.

On the other hand, pitfalls may arise if the crash victim tries to handle the claim without a lawyer or hires a generalist attorney. Without a lawyer specializing in trucking cases, the victim may not fully understand the complexities of FMCSA regulations or know how to navigate the legal intricacies involved in trucking accidents. This could result in a lower settlement amount or even the dismissal of the case due to procedural errors or lack of evidence.

Therefore, hiring a lawyer with expertise in trucking cases is essential to ensure that the victim’s rights are protected, the case is thoroughly investigated, and the best possible outcome regarding compensation and justice is achieved.