FMCSA Amends Its Driver Hours of Service Rules

Transportation Update

Date: May 19, 2020

On May 14, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a final rule (Final Rule) revising the hours of service (HOS) regulations for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. The Final Rule is intended “to provide greater flexibility for drivers subject to those rules without adversely affecting safety.” FMCSA initiated the review of its HOS regulations in 2018 to address in part certain effects of its rules requiring implementation of Electronic Logging Devices (ELD).

A summary of the changes to the HOS regulations are as follows:

  • Short-Haul Exception: The maximum duty period allowed under the short-haul exception available to certain CMV drivers has been extended from 12 hours to 14 hours. FMCSA also extended the maximum radius of the short-haul exception from 100 to 150 air-miles. FMCSA anticipates that the changes will increase the number of drivers able to take advantage of the short-haul exception, without any impact on hours driven or aggregate vehicle miles traveled.
  • Adverse Driving Conditions: Drivers using the adverse driving conditions exception may extend the 14-hour maximum driving window by up to two hours. The current rules only permit drivers to extend the 11-hour maximum driving limit by two hours. FMCSA believes that this change will allow drivers time to park and wait out the adverse conditions or to drive slowly through them, which would decrease the crash risk relative to current requirements.
  • 30-Minute Break: The 30-minute break rule was amended to require an uninterrupted 30-minute break after eight hours of driving, whereas the prior rule required the break after eight hours on duty. The amended rule also allows drivers to satisfy the break requirement by engaging in any non-driving activities, which can be on-duty, off-duty, or sleeper berth time. FMCSA anticipates that this change will allow drivers to increase on-duty time by 30 minutes without having any effect on fatigue.
  • Split-Sleeper Berth: Drivers may split the sleeper berth 10 hours off-duty requirement into two periods with at least two hours spent off duty whether in or out of the sleeper berth and seven consecutive hours spent in the sleeper berth. Neither period would count against the 14-hour driving window. FMCSA anticipates an increase in the use of sleeper berths because drivers will have additional hours to complete the driving period, as the new rules do not count the shorter rest period as part of the driving window unlike the current rules.

FMCSA decided not to adopt its proposal to add a single off-duty period of up to three hours that would be excluded from the 14-hour driving window due to concerns of unintended consequences associated with actions by employers, shippers and receivers that might be contrary to the drivers’ interest.

The Final Rule will be effective 120 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information, please contact:

Karyn A. Booth
202.263.4108
Karyn.Booth@ThompsonHine.com

Jason D. Tutrone
202.263.4143
Jason.Tutrone@ThompsonHine.com

Kerem Bilge*
202.263.4104
Kerem.Bilge@ThompsonHine.com
 *Admitted only in Istanbul and New York; not engaged in the practice of law in the District of Columbia.

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