The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently released proposed changes to the interstate hours-of-service (HOS) regulations which are intended to increase safety and provide additional flexibility for commercial drivers. The proposed rule changes would also apply to intrastate trucks in states that adopt all federal logging rules.
The Proposal Offers Five Important Modifications To The Current HOS Rules:
- 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.
- Modify the sleeper berth exception to 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 period would count against the driver’s 14-hour driving window.
- Allow one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than three hours, that 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.
- Modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.
- Change the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.
The Notice of Final Rulemaking is now published in the Federal Register and the public has until October 7, 2019 to submit comments and provide information on various questions posed by the Agency. The Federal Register Notice is available here.
At this time, we don’t know when motor carriers may begin enjoying the more flexible logging rules. FMCSA can issue a final decision at its discretion and it has the authority to modify the proposed changes. It is likely that various highway groups will seek to delay or stop implementation of the new regulations and FMCSA is seeking information from ELD manufacturers regarding the amount of time needed to reprogram their ELD software which will also impact the date the new rules will go into effect.