Though wildly controversial the ELD Mandate has flashed a light on some major concerns that have been plaguing the trucking industry for some time now. One is the lack of available safe overnight parking, particularly in Metro areas. Another is the issues with hours of service (HOS) regulations. Due to a grassroots push from the Owner Operator Independent Divers Association (OOIDA), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) opened the regulation upfor public comment.
Currently, long-haul truck drivers are limited to 11 hours of driving during a 14 hour on-duty period. Drivers must have had 10 consecutive hours off duty before on-duty time starts again. Also, truckers who are going to be driving for more than eight hours must take a 30-minute break before reaching the eight-hour mark. FMCSA took comments on making the following changes:
- Expanding the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on duty to 14 hours on duty, 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 eight 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.
HOS violations will put an operator out of service and most long-haul drivers are paid by the mile driven, so their demand for more flexibility is understandable (driver pay is the third issue highlighted by the ELD Mandate). FMCSA is expected to announce the new regulations by the end of July 2019. Many safety advocates do not want to see any changes to HOS due to a 10% increase incrashes. Those pushing for changes counter that it is in fact the ELD Mandate, along with the lack of safe parking, and the way in which driver’s are paid that is making the nation’s highways less safe (OOIDA correctly predicted that there would be an increase in crashes).
So, what will the new HOS regulation look like? The best guess here is that the 11/14-hour rule will NOT change but expect to see changes involving the 30-minute break and/or reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers.