Revisions would help prevent driving fatigue and save truckers money
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has officially proposed changes to relax truck driver hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. The possible revisions follow months of discussions with truck drivers, driver and carrier groups and other industry stake holders as well as a series of listening sessions at various industry events around the country. The ultimate goal of the changes is to improve truck drivers’ productivity and safety.
“We listened directly to the concerns of drivers for rules that are safer and have more flexibility—and we have acted,” the FMCSA administrator, Raymond Martinez, said in a statement.
Here’s what’s set to change
- Thirty-minute break rule flexibility: Truckers could use their 30-minute break every eight hours when they are not driving but still technically on-duty. Examples would be while fueling a rig or waiting for cargo to be loaded. The change would essentially allow drivers to “work during their break.” Previously, truckers would have to go formally “off duty.” The FMCSA also proposes only counting drive time in the eight-hour limit before the required break.
- Split sleeper berth: Truck drivers could split up their 10 hours of off-duty time into two breaks: one period of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and a period of at least two consecutive hours whenever they choose (either off-duty or in the sleeper berth). Current law requires one 10-hour break after a day of driving.
- A 14-hour clock pause: Drivers could “pause” their 14-hour on-duty clock once, between 30 minutes and three hours, as long as they take 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of their shift.
- Drivers could strategize and use the “pause” to avoid rush hour traffic or accommodate longer load times without sacrificing drive time.
- The change could also allow for up to a 17-hour day instead of 14.
- More on-duty time during poor weather: Truck drivers would be able to extend their 14-hour maximum driving window by two hours when encountering adverse conditions.
- Increased time and distance for short-haulers: The maximum on-duty period could be increased for short-haul CDL drivers from 12 hours to 14, and the distance limit could be extended from 100 to 150 miles.
“The flexibilities in this proposal are intended to allow drivers to shift their drive and work time to mitigate the impacts of certain variables (e.g., weather, traffic, detention times),” the FMCSA noted.
The government estimates these proposed HOS changes will create $274 million in savings for the U.S. economy and American consumers.
The FMCSA has indicated these proposals are a top priority. However, it is likely to take several months before a final rule is issued. The FMCSA has been seeking additional feedback since the organization published the proposed HOS revisions in August. Truckers can expect to see implementation between April and July of 2020.