You may have heard of the recent hours of service proposed rule by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). On Aug 14, the agency issued a long-awaited proposal intended to put more power back in the hands of drivers to make decisions about safety. The FMCSA has been working on the new HOS proposed rules since August 2018. Since then, it received more than 5,200 comments- mostly from truck drivers and carriers asking for more flexibility from the strict regulations which could force them to drive while tired. The agency has extended the comment period until October 21, so you can still chime in with your thoughts. Here’s what’s you need to know:
What Are the Proposed Rules?
Flexibility for the 30-Minute Break Rule:
The new proposal aims to increase safety and flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by tying the break requirement to eight hours of driving time without an interruption of at least 30 minutes and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty status.
Modifying the Sleeper-Berth Exception:
Modifying the sleeper berth exception will allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off-duty into two periods: One period of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than two consecutive hours, either off-duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither of these would count against the driver’s 14-hour driving window.
Allowing One Off-Duty Break of at Least 30 Minutes:
The new rule would allow one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than three hours. It would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour driving window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.
Modifying the Adverse Driving Conditions Exception:
This change would to the adverse driving conditions exception extends the allowable driving window. An additional two hours will be added to the maximum window during which driving is permitted. This allows drivers greater flexibility.
Changing to the Short-Haul Exception:
The new rule would change the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers. It lengthens the drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours. In addition, it extends the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.
What Stays the Same?
- The proposed rules would NOT increase driving time
- They would continue to prevent commercial motor vehicle operators from driving for more than eight consecutive hours without at least a 30-minute change in duty status
The hours of service proposed rule was greeted well by industry groups, including the American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. The comment period has been extended until October 21, with a possibility of being extended past that. Truck drivers and carriers can make their voices heard before the rules become finalized.