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How Do Recap Hours Work?

August 4th, 2022

Kelli Bloom

Kelli Bloom

Kelli has been in the trucking industry since 2003. She got her start working in compliance for a trucking carrier that specialized in government freight. She has been the compliance manager with ATS since 2017.

Recap hours. Let’s lay it all out on the table. They’re confusing. A lot of drivers don’t understand them. 

They’re great because they give you drive time without having to do a 34-hour reset, but they’re confusing. If you’re having a hard time understanding them, you aren’t the only driver experiencing this. 

When can you use them? When do you need to do a 34-hour reset? Do you ever have to do a reset or can you keep running recaps? How do you avoid an Hours of Service (HOS) violation? 

How can you be successful running recaps when you don’t know how to calculate them? Failing to understand them puts you on the fast track to creating an HOS violation, which is associated with penalties no driver wants to deal with. 

At Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), we want to help you succeed and use your hours effectively so you can run as much as you want (legally) and make the great money you deserve. 

In this article, we’ll help you understand how to calculate recaps so you can use them effectively. We’ll also help you understand when you can use them.

Analog wrist watch laying next to a blank notebook and pen.

How To Calculate Recap Hours 

Recap hours utilize your duty cycle of working 70 hours in eight days. They allow you to work for longer runs without having to take a 34-hour reset. Essentially, your hours just continue to roll over.

As a truck driver, you have 70 hours of working time to use in eight days. After the eighth day, you can choose to take a 34-hour reset or you can keep running on recap hours. If you choose to do a reset, after 34 hours your clock resets and you’ll have a fresh 70-hour clock. If you don’t do a reset, you can just keep running recaps.

Running on recaps (or running recaps) refers to when you’ve driven more than eight days without a 34-hour reset to restart your 70-hour clock. After an eight-day cycle, “recap hours” will be added to your 70-hour clock each day at midnight— equivalent to the number of hours you were on duty and driving that same day the previous week. So, each night at midnight, you’ll gain the hours you worked a week prior. 

70-Hour 8-Day Recap Examples

Let’s use an example to make it a little easier to understand. 

On Monday, you worked 10 hours. The following Tuesday at midnight (eight days later), you’ll gain 10 more hours on your 70-hour clock. 

Let’s use another example, this time looking at a full week.

You start with a fresh 70-hour clock on a Monday. For the next eight days (Monday through Monday), you work 8 hours each day except on Wednesday, when you worked zero hours. At the end of those eight days, you have 14 hours left on your 70-hour clock because you worked 56 hours. 

You could choose to use recap hours or you could do a reset. 

When you use recap hours, at midnight on Tuesday of the second week, you’ll get eight hours added to your clock because that’s how many hours you worked the previous Monday. That would give you 24 hours on your 70-hour clock. 

On Tuesday, you work 10 hours, leaving 14 hours left on your 70-hour clock. At midnight, you’ll gain eight more recap hours from the previous eight hours you worked on Tuesday of last week. That puts your clock at 22 hours. 

On Wednesday, you work for 12 hours. Your clock is down to 10 hours. At midnight you will gain zero hours because the previous Wednesday, you didn’t work. Your clock remains at 10 hours. 

On Thursday, you work eight hours. Your clock is down to 2 hours. At midnight on Friday, you’ll gain eight hours because you worked eight hours last Thursday. Your clock will be at 10 hours. 

On Friday, you work another 10 hours. You have zero hours left on your clock, but at midnight on Saturday, you gain eight hours. At this point, you can choose to work a shorter day and keep using recap hours or you can do a reset.  

Keep in mind that when you do a reset and start with a fresh 70-hour clock, that week you won’t be able to run on any recap hours. You won’t be able to utilize recap hours until you’ve worked another eight-day period.

Your Hours of Service recap will show how many hours you’ve used each day. It’ll automatically add in the hours you gain at midnight from recap hours. Rely on your electronic logging device (ELD) to keep track of your hours — not only to ensure you don’t go over on your 70-hour clock, but also to ensure you’re on track with your 14-hour and 11-hour clocks.

It’s also helpful to write it all down on paper — following along with a calendar — so that you can plan your week out and have a great grasp on what your hours will look like. This will help you when you’re trip planning because you’ll know how many hours you can drive each day.

When Should You Use a Reset vs. Recap Hours? 

Now that you have a better grasp of what recap hours are, how do you know when you should use them or when you should do a reset? 

You’ll obviously need to do a reset when you’re out of hours, but otherwise, it’s your choice when you want to take a break from running recap hours. Recap hours are great, but it’s also important to take a break and give yourself a chance to fully reset. 

Drivers typically do a reset when their recap hours are low and aren’t giving them back many hours on their clock. For instance, if you have one week where you only average four hours of drive time each day, the recap hours you’ll get the following week will be low. That won’t give you many hours to work with, so you’re better off just doing a reset and giving yourself a fresh 70-hour clock.

The front glimpse of a McElroy Truck Lines, Inc. red semi-truck as it goes down a wooded road.

Move More Loads

You may still be wrapping your brain around the concept of recap hours and how you can make them work for you. Believe us when we say that when it clicks, it clicks. Your best bet is to sit down with a calendar and calculate them every day. It’ll help you stay on track and it’ll help you catch on faster. 

Using recap hours is perfect if you want to go on longer hauls without needing to take a 34-hour reset break in-between. It’ll allow you to keep chugging along and turning a profit. 

Remember though, it’s also important to take breaks. Driver fatigue is very real and it can lead to mistakes.

If you’re looking to move more loads and run more miles, especially to adapt to the current freight market, maximizing your Hours of Service is just one way you can succeed. 

Check out these tips to help you keep moving more loads.