After months of delay, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has finally published their proposed changes to truck driver Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations.
The Hours of Service Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) was published on Wednesday, August 14. The FMCSA says that they believe that the new HOS rules will give truckers more flexibility while maintaining highway safety.
“FMCSA wants drivers and all CMV stakeholders to share their thoughts and opinions on the proposed changes to hours of service rules that we are putting forward today. We listened directly to the concerns of drivers for rules that are safer and have more flexibility—and we have acted. We encourage everyone to review and comment on this proposal,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.
The FMCSA’s proposed changes to HOS are listed below.
*The Agency proposes to increase safety and flexibility for the 30 minute break rule by tying the break requirement to eight hours of driving time without an interruption for at least 30 minutes, and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on duty, not driving status, rather than off duty.
* The Agency proposes to 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.
* The Agency proposes to 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.
* The Agency proposes to modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.
* The Agency proposes a change to 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 FMCSA notes that their proposed rule changes are “crafted to improve safety on the Nation’s roadways. The proposed rule would not increase driving time and would continue to prevent CMV operators from driving for more than eight consecutive hours without at least a 30-minute change in duty status.”
The FMCSA has been at work on new Hours of Service regulations since August of 2018 when it published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making and asked for public comment on several aspects of Hours of Service reform. The FMCSA received more than 5,200 comments — many of them coming from truck drivers asking for relief from the strict regulations that they say could force them to drive while fatigued.
Regulatory reports from the Department of Transportation initially listed June 7, 2019, as the date for the NPRM publication. The publication date was them pushed back to July 31, but the agency didn’t meet this deadline either.
The FMCSA is accepting public comment on the HOS changes for 45 days. You can click here to learn more on how to provide your comment to the agency. After the comment period, it would likely be several months before the HOS changes would go into effect.