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FMCSA Proposes Changes to Hours-of-Service Rules

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed five changes to hours-of-service (HOS) rules that could affect your company.

The proposal is intended to make roads safer while also providing more flexibility for commercial drivers.

Staying on Duty During a Break

Your drivers will still have to have at least a 30-minute change in duty status every eight hours, but the proposal creates increased flexibility for that rule. Drivers could meet the standard by using on-duty, not driving status rather than having to be off-duty.

Pausing the 14-hour Window

This change would allow drivers to take one off-duty break of between 30 minutes and three hours that would pause their 14-hour driving window. This would allow drivers to rest without losing time in their driving window, drive later in their shift, and increase efficiency by letting drivers wait out traffic.

In order for this change to apply, drivers would be required to take 10 consecutive hours off after a shift.

Sleeper-berth Exception Adjustment

Another possible change would allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off-duty into two periods consisting of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper-berth and another of at least two consecutive hours off-duty in the sleeper-berth or elsewhere.

This change would let your drivers get sufficient rest while also giving them a second break that could be used for sleep or for attending to personal matters.

Longer Limits for Shorter Hauls

The proposal also includes a possible change to the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers. The change would lengthen the on-duty period limit from 12 to 14 hours and also extend maximum operating distance from 100 to 150 air miles.

According to the FMCSA, the change would increase the number of commercial drivers able to use the exception while also shifting work and drive time from long-haul to short-haul, or from driver to driver.

Adjusting the Adverse Conditions Exception

This proposal would extend the maximum driving window by up to two hours for those using the adverse driving conditions exception. The current exception lets your drivers stay on the road for two extra hours, but does not extend the maximum driving window.

This change would allow drivers to wait out dangerous conditions or drive through them more carefully.

Your Turn

For more information, see the FMCSA’s press release here.

The Federal Register Notice, including how to submit your comments, is available here.