FMCSA Proposes Changes to Hours of Service Rules for Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers

Transportation Update

Date: September 03, 2019

In August 2019, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) proposing changes to the hours of service (HOS) requirements for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. The NPRM follows an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking issued by the FMCSA in 2018, and addresses short-haul operations, the adverse driving conditions exception, the 30-minute break requirement, use of sleeper berths, and a split-duty provision. FMCSA proposes changes to these areas, among others, “to provide greater flexibility for drivers subject to the HOS rules without adversely affecting safety.” Additionally, FMCSA will hold a public listening session in September at the Department of Transportation Media Center in Washington, D.C. to allow interested parties the opportunity to share their views on its proposals directly to the agency.

A summary of the proposed changes to the HOS rules follows:

  • Short-Haul Exception: FMCSA proposes to extend the maximum duty period allowed under the short-haul exception available to certain CMV drivers from 12 hours to 14 hours. Changes would also extend the maximum distance in which drivers qualifying for the short-haul exception may operate from a 100- to a 150-air mile radius.
  • Adverse Driving Conditions: FMCSA proposes to allow drivers using the adverse driving conditions exception to extend the 14-hour maximum driving window by up to two hours (the current rule allows only an extension of the 11-hour driving limit by two hours).
  • 30-Minute Break: FMCSA proposes to change the 30?minute break rule by requiring a break after eight hours of driving time, instead of on-duty time, and allowing the requirement to be satisfied by an on-duty break from driving (e.g., loading or unloading truck, completing paperwork, or stopping for fuel), rather than requiring an off-duty break.
  • Split-Sleeper Berth: FMCSA proposes to change the split-sleeper berth requirements to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off-duty into two periods – at least seven consecutive hours spent in the sleeper berth and at least two consecutive hours spent off-duty (whether in or out of the sleeper berth). Neither period would count against the driver’s 14-hour driving window. Current rules require drivers to spend at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, and two consecutive hours off-duty.
  • Split-Duty Provision: FMCSA proposes to allow drivers to split their driving windows by adding an option for one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than three hours, that would pause the driver’s 14?hour driving window. Drivers must take at least 10 consecutive hours off duty at the end of the work shift. Under the current rules, the 14-hour driving window runs consecutively without any potential stoppage.

Comments on the proposed changes must be submitted to FMCSA on or before October 7, 2019. Thompson Hine is available to assist companies and organizations in the preparation and submission of comments.


For more information, please contact:

Karyn A. Booth

Jason D. Tutrone

This advisory bulletin may be reproduced, in whole or in part, with the prior permission of Thompson Hine LLP and acknowledgment of its source and copyright. This publication is intended to inform clients about legal matters of current interest. It is not intended as legal advice. Readers should not act upon the information contained in it without professional counsel.

This document may be considered attorney advertising in some jurisdictions.