Semi Trucks

A $500 billion transportation and infrastructure bill introduced by House Democrats on Wednesday could result in a major delay in the implementation date of new Hours of Service regulation changes.

Currently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)’s recently debuted Hours of Service (HOS) rules are set to go into effect on September 29, 2020, after the Hours of Service Final Rule was debuted on May 14, 2020, following two years of active development.

However, the late September start date could be in jeopardy due to a nearly $500 billion, 5 year infrastructure bill introduced in the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee on June 3.

The “Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act” spearheaded by Peter DeFazio (D-OR) would provide much needed funding for roads, bridges, public transit, and rail systems repair and upgrades.

But the bill would also seriously delay the implementation of the new HOS rules by requiring that the FMCSA perform a comprehensive review of the regulations to determine their safety impact.

Per the language of the bill, the results of the review would have to be published in the Federal Register no later than 18 months after the start of the review and given a public comment period before changes to HOS regulations could take effect.

Other significant changes for the trucking industry tucked into the bill include the creation of a truck lease-purchase task force, $250 million for truck parking, a push for more clarity on personal conveyance rules, and new rules related to unpaid driver detention.

The four key changes outlined by FMCSA in the Final Rule published last month are outlined below.

The four key changes to HOS regulations are outlined below.

  • 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.

The bill is in the early stages and could change significantly during the legislative process.

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