On Thursday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published their long-awaited Hours of Service Final Rule.
For nearly two years, the FMCSA has been crafting the changes to current Hours of Service regulations that were debuted on the morning of May 14.
The agency has promised that the regulation changes will increase flexibility for U.S. truckers while maintaining highway safety.
“America’s truckers are doing a heroic job keeping our supply chains open during this unprecedented time and these rules will provide them greater flexibility to keep America moving,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
FMCSA says that they drafted the Final Rule after consulting more than 8,000 public comments from industry stakeholders, law enforcement, safety groups, and drivers themselves.
The Final Rule features four key changes to existing Hours of Service requirements.
- The Agency will increase safety and flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by requiring a break after 8 hours of consecutive driving and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty status.
- The Agency will modify the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: an 8/2 split, or a 7/3 split—with neither period counting against the driver’s 14‑hour driving window.
- The Agency will modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.
- The Agency will change 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.
Many industry stakeholders had been hoping for a rule change that would allow drivers to “pause” the 14 hour clock, but the FMCSA said that they decided against this change after consulting public comment.
The new Hours of Service rules will be implemented 120 days after the Final Rule is published in the Federal Register.
The FMCSA says that the new Hours of Service rules will save American consumers and the U.S. economy $274 million per year. The agency says that most of these savings will come from the increased flexibility that the new 30 minute rest break rule will provide for drivers.
“The Department of Transportation and the Trump Administration listened directly to the concerns of truckers seeking rules that are safer and have more flexibility—and we have acted. These updated hours of service rules are based on the thousands of comments we received from the American people. These reforms will improve safety on America’s roadways and strengthen the nation’s motor carrier industry,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen.
In 2018, the FMCSA authored an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) asking for public comment on Hours of Service rule changes. In August 2019, the FMCSA published a more detailed Hours of Service Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM).