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How Many Hours Can a Box Truck Driver Drive?

Although covering as many miles as possible is vital to a box truck driver’s success, box truck drivers in the United States are not permitted to drive for more than 11 hours within a 24-hour time frame.

By adhering to federal laws (dependent on state and interstate), box truck drivers will most often average around 55 to 60 miles per hour; and this entails that most box truck drivers average around 605 to 650 miles per working day—although mileage varies depending on the route, traffic, and weather conditions.

Hour limits for drivers were established by FMCSA as part of their HOS regulations to curtail driver fatigue in the trucking industry. Note that driver fatigue impedes alertness and can forestall drivers from focusing on the road and the task at hand.

Also, note that it can impact reaction times —like if the vehicle in front immediately slams on the brakes. According to reports, driver fatigue has been attributed to around 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and nearly 800 fatalities every year in the US.

The primary aim of establishing HOS regulations was to lessen the negative impacts of driver fatigue and sleep deprivation in the United States.

Owing to that, the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate was laid down as part of HOS rules to help the FMCSA enforce compliance with these regulations while making it more convenient for carriers to log and track drivers’ hours. Aside from the fact that ELD regulations have helped to improve safety, they’ve also helped companies to improve their efficiency.

Box truck drivers who carry out interstate commerce are expected to extensively comply with the federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations that stipulate the maximum amount of time a driver can work and the minimum amount of time a driver is expected to rest before working again.

Note that if a driver violates the Hours of Service rules, the driver may be placed out of service and fined for a regulation violation, falsification of logs, or failing to record duty status.

The Hours of Service regulations can be found in Part 395 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, which are developed and still enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

Have it in mind that these DOT regulations note both how long a truck driver can drive and how long he or she can participate in non-driving work.

Breakdown of the Hours of Service Rules in the United States

The DOT regulations state both how long a truck driver is permitted to drive and how long he or she can participate in non-driving work. The HOS rules are summarized as follows;

  1. 14-Hour Driving Limit

Note that the 14-hour driving limit is based on a day-by-day basis. Within this period, you are permitted to drive for 11 hours after you must have taken a break for 10 hours or more. Have it in mind that the 14-hour driving limit begins as soon as you start working, whether you are driving or not.

Immediately after you have completed your 14 hours, you are expected to take another 10-hour break before you get back on the road again. You should note that when you take a nap, get a meal, etc, you still have to stay within the 14-hour limit.

  1. 11-Hour Driving Limit

While you are in your 14-hour driving period, you are only permitted to be driving your box truck for up to 11 hours at a time total.

While you are driving, you are also mandated to take a 30-minute break after at least 8 hours of driving, and you can continue the rest of your trip until you reach the 11-hour mark. At that point, you are not permitted to drive again until you’ve taken a 10-hour break.

  1. 30-minute Break Rule

Have it in mind that a box truck driver is not allowed to drive after the eighth hour of driving without taking a break from driving for at least 30 minutes before driving again. Note that this rule brings the added flexibility following a 2020 rule change by the FMCSA.

  1. 60 Hour/7 Day Or 70 Hour/8 Day Limit

Besides the other previous limits, you will also be expected to comply with the 60-hour/7day or 70-hour/ 8day limit. Note that this limit is based on a rolling 7 or 8-day period. It simply means that you must not drive over the 60-hour limit after seven days or the 70-hour limit after eight days.

Immediately you attain your limit, you are not permitted to drive again until you are below 70 hours for the eight-day in a row period. You can use the time to do other work, but you cannot use it to drive. Also, note that any extra hours you work will have to be added to the total time.

  1. 10-Hour Break

In the United States, the 10-hour break is noted as 10 consecutive hours in an off-duty status. This can be 10 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, 10 consecutive hours on Line 1, or a combination of both Lines 1 and 2 for 10 consecutive hours … or in some cases, one notable exception.

  1. 7 and 3 Split or Split Sleeper Rule

Note that the 7-3 split gives room for drivers to sometimes split a 10-hour break into two segments — one segment no shorter than seven hours and the other of at least three hours at separate times.

After each partial rest break, drivers are expected to count the driving time from before that rest against the current clock, therefore the split sleeper time can get complicated and interfere with healthy sleep patterns. Most often, many carriers do not give room for split sleeper berth breaks, even with the flexibility added in the 2020 rule change.

Basic Exception to the Hours of Service Rules

Indeed, the Hours of Service regulations give room for some exceptions, although it will most often fall on each driver to understand their appropriate application.

  • Personal conveyance: Making use of a truck for personal transportation (full FMCSA guidance).
  • Yard moves: Note that driving done in a limited-access lot or yard can be carried out in on-duty status vs. driving.
  • Short-haul exemption: Also note that CDL drivers that steadily operate within a 150 air-mile radius (expanded in 2020 from 100) and start and return to their terminal within 14 hours (expanded in 2020 from 12) may be exempt from keeping logs, and reporting daily hours instead.
  • Adverse driving conditions: Drivers are allowed to extend maximum driving and the maximum workday limit by up to two hours when some valid conditions are met, including when such weather conditions could not have been foretold before the driver started driving. Although not always possible, this exception also comes with some added flexibility with the new 2020 rules.
  • Direct emergency assistance: According to FMCSA, drivers are allowed to complete their run under certain emergency conditions, such as a federal or state emergency declaration (this includes COVID-19 emergency relief, as noted in the FMCSA’s COVID-19 information and resources).


A box truck driver is permitted to drive 11 hours before needing to take a 10-hour break, while also complying with time logging requirements and following several other Hours of Service rules.

Have it in mind that government inspectors will regularly go through truck drivers’ logs to validate if they are operating within the federal regulations. Note that failure to provide a log, or providing an incomplete or falsified log, will result in violations that could lead to fines, suspensions, or even the loss of your CDL.