If you work as a trucker or driver, you’ve likely worked long hours without taking much of a break.

Research suggests that drivers are more likely to be overworked and exhausted than those in other fields. Additionally, a recent survey from the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health demonstrated that, on average, most long-haul truck drivers work 50% more hours in a week than typical workers. 

The consequences of overwork can be dire for drivers, leading to burnout, accidents, and chronic health conditions.

For this reason, the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has implemented a 34-hour reset rule. The 34-hour rule mandates that drivers take 34 hours of consecutive rest to reset their workweek. 

Understanding this DOT reset hour rule is crucial to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Use this guide to learn everything you need about the 34-hour reset rule, including how to make the best of it. 

What is the 34-Hour Reset Rule?

The 34-hour reset rule requires drivers to take at least 34 consecutive hours off duty after completing 70 hours of on-duty time over eight days. The 34-Hr Restart Rule, established by the FMCSA, applies to all interstate and intrastate commercial vehicle operations involving passenger or cargo transportation over state borders.

For a 34-hour reset, truckers may do no labor associated with the job during this period – including loading/unloading freight or conducting pre-trip checks.

This regulation is intended to decrease exhaustion among truckers by guaranteeing they obtain sufficient rest between assignments. It also promotes public safety by diminishing the danger of tired drivers controlling heavy machinery.

Benefits of the 34-Hour Reset Rule

The benefits of rest have been well-documented. Adequate rest allows the body to reset, allowing for more efficient work on the back end and a host of personal and public benefits. Consider the following benefits of the 34 hr reset rule. 

Public Safety Benefits 

The most important benefit of the 34-hour reset rule is that it protects truckers, third-party drivers, and pedestrians from the harm induced by long-haul-carrier accidents. 

According to research conducted by FMCSA, there has been an overall reduction in fatal crashes involving large trucks since companies implemented the 34-hour reset rule in 2013.

Resting adequately between shifts can reduce the likelihood of a crash caused by drowsiness or other distractions from exhaustion. It can also prevent accidents from occurring when drivers are working across other capabilities, including loading and unloading cargo. 

Reduced Driver Fatigue and Stress Levels:

Another benefit of this rule is reduced driver fatigue and stress levels. 

Drivers who adhere to these regulations will have more energy during their shifts, leading to better performance behind the wheel, higher job satisfaction, and enough time for their leisure. 

The prevalence of mental health disorders among truckers suggests that this rule is needed now more than ever. 

Increased Efficiency 

Research shows that drivers who take prolonged rest from their work are ultimately more productive due to their improved health.

Many businesses have found that implementing this policy results in fewer missed deadlines, as drivers are more likely to remain on task when adequately rested. 

Well-rested drivers are less likely to make costly mistakes, such as taking the wrong route or missing an exit. Proper rest also improves communication and work relationships, allowing drivers to remain in good standing at their jobs. 

Financial Benefits 

This increased efficiency can help save money for both drivers and companies alike, as well as ensure that deliveries arrive on schedule without compromising driver safety or well-being.

As evident,  rest improves productivity and maximizes efficiency through which the 34-hour rule can impact company expenses.

Maximizes Industry Appeal 

A massive labor shortage in the trucking industry has left the market reeling. Many suggest that truckers no longer want to work because of the profession’s notoriously long hours and the possibility of burnout.

The 34-hour reset rule accounts for this problem, maximizing the industry’s appeal to would-be truckers.

Challenges with Implementing the 34-Hour Reset Rule

There are several potential challenges to implementing the 34-hour reset rule that truckers and their employers would do well to consider.

Scheduling Difficulty

Scheduling is one of the biggest challenges companies face when complying with this regulation.

If a company has a large fleet of vehicles operating across multiple states or countries, implementing the rule requires careful planning and coordination between several departments—including dispatch and maintenance teams—to meet all requirements. 

Trucking is a volatile industry, with many unintended and uncontrollable disruptions, such as traffic jams and machinery breakdowns. As a result, drivers may be tempted to forego rest to account for unexpected changes. 

Fortunately, there are strategies that you can implement to overcome these obstacles, including utilizing routine software to streamline processes, offering incentives to drivers for adhering to rules, and working with customers regarding deadlines.

Extended Deadlines

Because the 34-hour reset rule requires truckers to take a break—even if they are behind schedule—it might impact delivery times and cause delayed deliveries throughout their schedule.

Cost Implications

Companies must invest in additional resources, such as staff or technology, to manage their fleets’ compliance with these regulations. 

Drivers may also face increased fuel expenditures for driving further distances within shorter time frames when considering rest breaks required by law during their shifts.

Strategies to Overcome Challenges by Implementing the 34-Hour Reset Rule

If the 34-hour rule sounds like a daunting challenge, that’s because it requires specific logistical changes.

However, once companies implement these changes—and avoid costly mistakes—they will find that the 34-hour rule is relatively easy to implement.

Consider the following strategies to overcome challenges with implementing this rule.

Avoiding Mistakes

Companies must educate drivers on the importance of rest and its impact on productivity.

Many drivers need to pay more attention to their need for rest and may shorten rest time to account for unexpected challenges.

Furthermore, companies must help drivers implement healthy practices during the workweek—not just at the end. 

Leveraging Technology

Technology is the key to streamlining scheduling processes. Companies should invest in routing optimization software that allows for efficient tracking of driver hours and automated notifications when drivers are approaching their maximum hours. 

This technology can help companies stay abreast of the rule, ensuring drivers don’t work too hard. Additionally, drivers should be able to use this technology to monitor their hours and plan accordingly.

Offering Incentives 

Incentives can encourage drivers to comply with the reset rule, diminishing expenditures related to non-observance. 

Companies should consider offering bonuses or other rewards for meeting specific goals related to adherence to the rule, such as completing a certain number of trips within a set amount of time without exceeding the reset limit. 

Why You Should Embrace the 34-Hour Reset Rule Now.

The 34-hour reset rule is a necessary regulation that protects truck drivers and the companies they work for. It mandates a break of at least 34 hours following each work week.

Truck drivers can avoid fatigue, expensive mistakes, and accidents by taking regular breaks during long journeys, leading to safer roads for everyone involved.

Adopting this truck driver reset hours policy also optimizes your business’s productivity levels. By instituting mandated rest periods, you can reduce turnaround times between trips and maximize performance throughout each journey, allowing you to focus on scaling and revenue.

FAQs about What is the 34-Hour Reset Rule?

Is it mandatory to complete a 34-hour reset?

No, it is not mandatory to complete a 34-hour reset. Depending on the context of the situation, different regulations may apply and determine if a reset period is necessary. 

Can you use personal conveyance during a 34-hour reset?

Yes, you can use personal conveyance during a 34-hour reset.

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Nicole Fevrin, Senior Product Marketing Manager, has been with WorkWave for over four years. She works on the Route Manager, GPS, and ServMan products. Nicole has over 21 years of experience in B2B and B2C Marketing in various industries and possess a Master’s Degree in Communication Studies. Her background industries range from ultra-luxury and cosmetics to commodities and home services. This range has afforded her a well-rounded perspective of customer insights and various business models.