On August 14th, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) finally released the proposal to make changes to its hours-of-service rules. There are five main changes including wiggle room to split up off-duty time.
These proposed changes are meant to make truck drivers’ jobs better by revising five key elements of 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 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
Though none of the proposed HOS rule changes will increase the maximum time a driver is allowed to spend driving, they will allow for more flexibility. The driver will be able to change the number of hours driven or hours worked during a given work shift. These new flexibilities will allow drivers to change the times they drive and work to account for things like weather, or traffic.
“This proposed rule seeks to enhance safety by giving America’s commercial drivers more flexibility while maintaining the safety limits on driving time,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
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 also said the changes will help drivers. “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.”