FMCSA Unveils Proposed Changes to Hours-of-Service Rules

[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.] Federal trucking regulators have issued a proposed change to hours-of-service rules that would increase truck drivers’ flexibility with their 30-minute rest break and with dividing their time in the sleeper berth. The proposal, announced on Aug.

14, also would extend by two hours duty time for drivers encountering adverse weather and expand the current 100 air-mile “shorthaul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty to be consistent with workday rules for longhaul truck drivers. FMCSA Announcement on Proposed HOS Changes The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said it will accept comments on the proposal for 45 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

In the proposal, FMCSA offers five key revisions to the existing 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.
  • 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 shorthaul 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.

“This proposed rule seeks to enhance safety by giving America’s commercial drivers more flexibility while maintaining the safety limits on driving time,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement.

FMCSA Proposed Hours-of-Ser… by Transport Topics on Scribd During an Aug.

14 telephone news conference, FMCSA Administrator Raymond Martinez said the proposed changes represent a, “commonsense approach to crafting hours-of-service regulations that are more flexible for truck drivers and promote safety for all who share the road.” He added that the proposed changes are intended to help drivers better manage challenges in their daily schedules. 

MORE REACTION: Key stakeholders tout proposal. “That is congestion, parking issues, unexpected adverse conditions that may arise. They need some level of flexibility that allows them to work around.

Many of them felt they were racing the clock with those AOBRDs or ELDs. We hope that providing this type of flexibility puts a little more power back in the hands of drivers and carriers to make smart decisions with regard to safety and the realities of what they’re facing on the roadways.” Martinez said he could not predict how long the process of analyzing stakeholder comments and fashioning a final rule would take, but is optimistic about timing. “We believe we are ahead of schedule,” he said.

FMCSA said none of the proposals in the NPRM would increase the maximum allowable driving time, but may change the number of hours driven or hours worked during a given work shift. “The flexibilities in this proposal are intended to allow drivers to shift their drive and work time to mitigate the impacts of certain variables (e.g., weather, traffic, detention times) and to take the proposed changes would not result in an increase in freight movement or aggregate vehicle miles traveled. Aggregate VMT is determined by many factors, including market demand for transportation,” the proposal said. The agency said it did not anticipate that the proposed HOS changes would stimulate demand in the freight market, nor does it expect that any of the time shifts would negatively impact drivers’ health.

Chao The HOS proposal was the result of a 2017 executive order from the White House requesting that agencies “alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people.”

“In accordance with those residential directives and based upon its experience and expertise, FMCSA reviewed the driver HOS regulations to determine if revisions might alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens while maintaining CMV driver safety and health and motor carrier safety, as well as the safety of the public,” the proposal said. “On May 17, 2018, five months after the implementation of the electronic logging device mandate, Administrator Martinez received a letter signed by 30 senators expressing support for greater flexibility in the HOS regulations.”

You may also like...