Maximizing Your Hours of Service Use

Every truck driver today has to install an electronic logging device (ELD) to record their Hours of Service (HOS). While it sounds like a hassle, an ELD provides the perfect opportunity to maximize your work hours to increase income.

With a deep understanding of the FMCSA’s Hours of Service rules and the ability to utilize driving hours efficiently, you can make the most out of your HOS. Below we’ve created a list of the eight ways you can make more money:

Plan Your Trip

Taking the time to map out your trip before you hit the road is an excellent way of maximizing your Hours of Service. Failing to plan your route before dispatching can cost you money as you get stuck in the heaviest traffic and challenging roads.

Instead of getting behind the wheel, grab a map to plan your stops between your current and final destination. Remember when and where to stop for fuel, pickup, breaks, and snacks. In addition, call your customers to ask for easy-to-follow directions and truck parking availability. 

You can quickly maximize your HOS by avoiding rush hour traffic and knowing when to refill your tank. Moreover, keep a paper map to ensure you always have a backup plan if your phone and E-log system stop responding.

Furthermore, you can make the most of your work hours by keeping your truck door closed as much as possible. For instance, you can pick up snacks at a truck stop you’re fueling up and enjoy your break. That way, you can minimize your trips in and out of the truck and maximize your income!

Lastly, check your location’s weather forecast to determine the weather conditions you’ll face. You might want to take an alternative route or plan an early break to avoid a storm or other calamities. 

Ensure You Have Enough Gas

It sounds obvious, but most drivers overlook the amount of gas left in the tank. There’s nothing worse than running out of gas while you’re stuck in traffic or near your destination.

You will not only deliver your order late but also ruin your trip and cost money. Remember to plan and circle spots you’ll stop to get fuel to ensure you always have extra gas in the tank.

In addition, we recommend taking main highways over back roads as you can save on fuel costs by reducing stop-and-go. A bonus is you can minimize the risks of accidents.

Combine Your Tasks

When it comes to trucking, every minute saved is an extra dollar earned! Combine your tasks to save time and maximize your Hours of Service.  

Fill up your tank and perform your pre-trip inspection simultaneously. Instead of creating two time-consuming log entries, you can lump them together and save time! 

Get creative and try to find new ways to combine daily tasks. If you’re stuck at a fuel stop, use it for a restroom break or pick up a sandwich for later

Always be productive during your HOS; you’ll notice how much time you can save within a few days of practice!

Look for Traffic-Free Routes

You can’t always predict traffic, but with experience, it’ll become more manageable. Try to avoid routes during rush hour or find alternatives to high-traffic areas. 

As a result, you can buy back your Hours of Service, save fuel, and ensure efficiency. You can install traffic alert apps or stay updated with news to improve performance.

Create Mileage Goals

Setting efficient mileage goals eases determining productivity and profitability. You can split your route into multiple sections to spread snack and fuel stops while staying on track with your end goal.

For instance, if you drive up to 7 to 8 hours daily, you can expect to drive 300 to 400 miles. Using this number, you can identify the best times to take breaks to ensure you reach the final destination on time.

Ensure You Get Rest

Driving a truck for 10 to 11 hours is exhausting, and your body needs rest. Ensure you get plenty of rest by pulling over when you feel tired or sleepy.

Remember, sacrificing a few miles is worth your and others on the road’s safety. In addition, you can buy more miles by allowing yourself to recharge.

Use the Split-Sleeper Rule

The FMSCA requires truck drivers to take breaks after ten consecutive hour’s off-duty time. You can log your break as Sleeper/Off Duty during this time.You can also split 10-hour breaks using the 7/3 split sleeper rule. For instance, if you take a 3-hour driving break and log in Off-Duty, you can drive for 5 to 6 hours. After that, you can log 7 hours in the sleeper to satisfy the FMSCA Hours of Service rule and maximize your breaks.

Use Restarts to Complete Other Tasks

Most truckers run out of hours to work, mainly due to the 70hr/8 day limit. As a result, you might have to take a 34-hour restart before you can hit the road.

You can make the most out of a restart break by using it to complete additional tasks, such as visiting the repair shop for mechanical issues. You can also do your laundry and shop to re-stock essentials, including food and drinks. Consider creating checklists to ensure you don’t forget necessary truck maintenance and tools. 

Another thing you can try is shutting down near an area you want to explore. Consequently, you’ll have adequate time to discover the place and try new cuisines. Lastly, you can cater to your needs, such as getting a haircut, hanging out with a friend, or filling a prescription.

The Bottom Line

These are the top eight tips to help truck drivers deliver on time and maximize their hours. Proper planning lets you fit breaks, fuel stops, and HOS restart times without losing valuable Hours of Service. 

Effectively managing your time and taking breaks when necessary can improve your productivity without hurting your health. In addition, it can help you create a long-lasting and satisfying career.