Keeping track of your hours of service can be hard. But, as every OTR driver should know, drivers must take their 30-minute off-duty break sometime within 8 hours of driving. If the driver does not take this break, he will not be able to continue traveling. The violation of this rule occurs when the driver continues to drive after these 8 hours. The driver may still be on duty, this will not be a violation, but he can’t and should not drive. It’s essential to note that the 8-hour mark begins when the driver goes on duty for the day.
Truck driver hours of service
Drivers must be cautious about when they take their 30-minute break. If you take it too soon during their haul, maybe you’ll be forced, to take another 30-minute break, which can lead to delays. That’s why planning out your haul is crucial; it will allow you to deliver freight on time while still taking care of yourself and abiding by the HOS regulations.
So, now that we understand that the 30-minute break is obligatory (except for some cases, like when you’re transporting livestock, food, over-dimensional freight, and others), you must find ways to take advantage of those valuable 30 minutes. After all, it’s your only downtime for the next 8 hours!
What can I do during my 30-minute break?
Here are a few simple activities you can do during your 30-minute break:
1- Use the time for a meal break
Thirty minutes is the perfect time for you to prepare and enjoy a mid-shift meal. While on the road eating the right food can help you avoid an upset stomach along the way. Try to look for foods that add nutrients and vitamins to your body and contribute to your overall health.
Avoid overeating, fried foods, and food with lots of added sugar. It’s essential to consider that some foods can make you sleepy and are hard to break down in your digestive system. These foods can cause sleepiness, tiredness, sluggishness, and overall discomfort, leading you to have issues during your ride.
What foods should you avoid before starting to drive again?
- Cheeseburgers or any greasy foods: these are difficult to digest and take up a lot of your body’s energy.
- Soft drinks: these drinks that contain a lot of gas may cause bloating, indigestion, or general abdominal pain.
- Anything that contains tomatoes can alter your bladder and make you need to stop for bathroom breaks more often. So, pizza and tomato sauce should be considered carefully.
- Sweets: even though candies can give you bursts of energy, the downfall is worse. They are difficult to digest, and you’ll probably end up with an upset stomach.
If you don’t want to eat an entire meal during your break, make sure to eat at least some healthy snacks that give you the energy you require. Here are a few options:
- Almonds, but remember, just a handful!
- Smoked meat
- Sunflower seeds
- Roasted chickpeas
Eating during your shift is essential to maintain your energy levels up while still being healthy. Listen to your body! It will tell you which foods you can or cannot eat during your hauls.
2- Stretch session!
Even though we say it all the time, a good stretch goes a long way! Take advantage of those precious minutes to stand up and do some good stretches. It’s not just about moving your arms up and down; you must stand up and move your entire body to feel relief.
Here are some quick stretches you can do before starting your next 8-hour drive period:
- Neck rotations
- Shoulder pull
- Wrist bend
- Arm rotations
- Quad stretch
Doing these stretches for at least 30 seconds each will help avoid feeling stiff! Do them regularly, and you’ll feel energized and ready to take on your next haul.
3- Organize your space
Take a moment to search your cabin and truck for misplaced bits and pieces. Maybe you left some water bottles or empty food packages lying around. Take the time to pick them up and through away your trash. Clean your steering wheel from food stains or dust and shake off any dirt from your feet rug.
A clean space will improve your overall mood and help you feel more productive!
4- Read something of interest
While driving, it’s hard to keep up to date with things that interest you. Take a moment during your break to read something that interests you and helps you feel motivated. Whether it’s a book, magazine, news, or recipe blogs for when you get home, this is the moment for you to relax and think about something different. This will help you keep your mind busy with other things apart from work and help you rest your mind for some minutes.
5- Catch up with family and friends
Family and friends always cheer up your day. Call or text them during your break and talk about things that keep your mind off the long road ahead. Hearing them will boost your mood and allow you to see things from different perspectives. Plan a visit, a gathering, or anything that makes the near future exciting!
Taking advantage of your 30-minute break is a great way to have a productive shift while being mindful of your health. Instead of staying in your truck or sitting down somewhere else, allow your body to move and regain the energy it requires to continue your shift alert, aware and energized.