Revisions to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) hours of service (HOS) regulations kick into gear starting September 29. The agency of the DOT that regulates the trucking industry set up the revisions to allow pliability without adversely affecting safety. The modifications were released back in June to give companies a few months to gain overall understanding and educate drivers accordingly. Here are the changes:
Short-haul Exception - Allows property and passenger carriers to not take a 30-minute break from driving. Carriers are also allowed to record hours in a time record instead of an electronic logging device (ELD) or graph grid log. The exception change expands the air-mile radius from 100 to 150 and lengthens the maximum allowable workday from a 12- to 14-hour shift.
Adverse Driving Conditions Exception - Allows for the duty day to be extended by two hours when adverse driving conditions are encountered (this is in addition to the extra two hours of driving time already allowed). The change applies for both property (14-hour driving window) and passenger (15-hour on-duty limit) motor carriers. In addition, the definition of adverse driving conditions now considers the driver’s knowledge of the weather conditions or unusual road or traffic conditions prior to beginning their duty day or before driving after a qualifying rest break or sleeper berth period.
30-Minute Break Requirement - Previously required for property-carrying commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers after eight hours of on-duty time, with the break satisfied by time off-duty or time spent in the sleeper birth. The modifications state that CMV drivers are required to take a 30-minute break after eight consecutive hours of driving time, and break satisfaction now can include non-driving on-duty time. The 30 minutes must be consecutive and can be satisfied by any non-driving combination.
Sleeper Berth Provision - Specific exclusively to property-carrying CMV drivers, this provision has been modified to allow drivers to break up their 10-hour off-duty period in varying ways, provided one off-duty period, whether in or out of the sleeper berth, is at least two hours long and the other involves at least seven consecutive hours spent in the sleeper berth. Both periods must add up to 10 hours and, when paired, neither time period counts against the maximum 14-hour driving window. In addition, the eight-hour sleeper berth period by itself can no longer be excluded from the 14-hour driving window. There’s been no change unique to this provision for drivers of passenger-carrying CMV drivers.
From their inception, the primary purpose of HOS regulations was – and is – to reduce accidents from driver fatigue. Added flexibility while maintaining a continued measure of safety are the desired ends of these regulation modifications, which were brought about as the FMCSA received feedback from the industry, Congress and the public.
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