FMCSA announces four key changes to HOS laws that truck drivers hate

  • Truck drivers scored a major win on May 14 when the federal government announced it would change parts of a much-hated safety law.
  • The hours-of-service law, which has existed in some form since 1938, will now be more flexible in when truck drivers take their 30-minute rest period and 10-hour sleep break.
  • Drivers may also extend their driving window by up to two hours if driving in adverse conditions. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A major safety law for America's 1.9 million truck drivers is officially changing, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced on May 14. It could be a big win for truck drivers, many of whom have told Business Insider that the law has made it harder to safely do their job safely and earn a living. On Thursday, FMCSA announced four major changes to its hours-of-service rules, which have been in place since 1938:

  • Truck drivers may extend their driving window by up to two hours if they are driving in adverse conditions.
  • Drivers may take their 30-minute rest period after eight consecutive hours of driving.

    Previously, drivers had to take their rest period within those eight hours, which some said was disruptive.

  • Truck drivers may now meet the 10-hour off-duty requirement by taking two periods of rest. One period must log at least seven hours in their sleeper berth, and at least two hours logged in or outside of the sleeper berth. Previously, drivers had to take one 10-hour rest period every day, and spend at least eight hours in the berth.

    Some said this was not realistic to how drivers' work hours play out. 

  • Short-haul trucking must follow the same laws that long-haul drivers face, and the air-mile radius of short-haul trucking is now bumped to 150 air miles.

When the FMCSA announced that they would investigate making these changes in August 2019, the agency estimated that they would save £274 million across the US economy. The HOS rules were easy to flout, but they've been more rigorously enforced by electronic-logging devices that became required in most truck drivers' cabins in December 2017. The devices are designed to ensure that truckers don't drive for more than 11 hours a day, that they work a maximum of 14 hours a day, and that they take regular breaks.

The FMCSA estimated in 2014 that requiring ELDs to enforce HOS rules could prevent up to 1,714 crashes, 522 injuries, and 24 deaths each year. But dozens of truck drivers have told Business Insider since the ELD mandate came into enforcement that the rules have had the opposite effect. Steve Manley, a veteran truck driver in his 50s in Nashville, Tennessee, told Business Insider in 2018 that the ELD mandate lowered his pay and made his job more unsafe.

"The electronic logs are supposed to make it safer, but really it has created a hazardous race to beat the clock," Manley said. "Drivers are now more reckless than ever trying to make it to their destination before the clock runs out with the mandatory breaks and such."

You may also like...