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. Thousands of drivers across the nation implored the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to make changes to HOS to restore much-needed flexibility to the industry and improve safety conditions on our nation’s roads. Finally, in May of 2020 FMCSA published the final HOS rules update.
The four key revisions are:
- 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 rule changes do not increase driving time and will continue to prevent truck drivers from driving for more than eight consecutive hours without at least a 30-minute break. Also, FMCSA’s rule modernizing HOS regulations is estimated to provide nearly $274 million in annualized cost savings for the US economy and American consumers.
COVID-19 has highlighted how essential truck drivers are to the American economy and the timing of this rule change could not be better. The new hours of service rule will have an implementation date of 120 days after publication in the Federal Register (September 11, 2020). The complete rule is available here.