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New ‘flexible’ Hours of Service regulations set to debut in June


The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is scheduled to unveil its highly anticipated changes to truck driver Hours of Service regulations early next month.

New regulatory reporting posted this week by the DOT indicates that Hours of Service changes are scheduled to be published on June 7, 2019.

The document indicates that DOT is listening to calls from the trucking industry for more flexibility in Hours of Service regulations in the wake of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate that went into effect in December of 2017:

The introduction of electronic logging devices and their ability to accurately record hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) have prompted numerous requests from Congress and the public for FMCSA to consider revising certain HOS provisions. On August 23, 2018, FMCSA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) and convened five listening sessions to obtain information on how HOS provisions could be improved. In consideration of the available data, comments to the docket and the remarks of the participants at the listening sessions, FMCSA proposes revisions to certain HOS provisions to provide greater flexibility for drivers’ subject to the HOS rules without adversely affecting safety

The DOT is free to change the HOS rule publication date. Following the publication of the Notice of Proposed Rule Making, the FMCSA will again accept public comments before publishing the changes as a Final Rule.

When federal authorities started the process of HOS regulation change in August of 2018, the FMCSA asked for public comment on HOS regulation reform and received thousands of responses from the trucking industry as well as the public at large.

Specifically, they asked the public to weigh in on four specific areas of HOS regulation:

  • Expanding the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty, in order to be consistent with the rules for long-haul truck drivers;
  • Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions;
  • Revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after 8-hours of continuous driving; and
  • Reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks that are equipped with a sleeper-berth compartment.

The FMCSA also asked the public for comment on two petitions:

  • An Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) petition that would allow drivers to take up to a three hour off-duty rest break during a 14 hour day period. OOIDA’s petition also asks for the elimination of the 30 minute rest break.
  • A Trucker Nation petition that would “revise the prohibition against driving after the 14th hour of the beginning of the work shift, allow drivers to use multiple off-duty periods of three hours or longer in lieu of having 10 consecutive hours off-duty, and eliminate the 30-minute rest break requirement.”

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