FMCSA Proposes New Driver Hours of Service and Age Limit Pilot Programs

Transportation Update

Date: October 09, 2020

Driver Split Duty Period Pilot Program

On September 3, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed in the Federal Register a pilot program providing temporary relief from the 14-hour driving window applicable to drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). The pilot program (i.e., Split Duty Period Pilot Program) would permit CMV drivers to pause the 14-hour driving window (also called the “duty period”) with one off-duty period of no less than 30 minutes and no more than three hours, provided that the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift. The program would operate for up to three years.

The program increases flexibility under the HOS rules by allowing drivers to split their duty period to avoid congestion and rest as needed, which would enable the remaining driving time after the split to be more productive. With the implementation of the pilot program, the agency aims to gather statistics on whether the split duty period would have any effect on safety performance, which the agency stated it will evaluate through a review of data pertaining to work and rest schedules and driver on-road performance.

FMCSA is seeking comments on several questions, including whether any additional safeguards are needed to ensure that the program provides safety equivalent to the current rules, and whether the agency should consider metrics other than crashes, safety critical events, fatigue levels, driver distraction and vehicle miles traveled.

The deadline to submit comments is on November 2.

Pilot Program to Allow Younger Drivers to Operate CMVs

On September 10, FMCSA proposed in the Federal Register a second pilot program to allow drivers aged between 18 and 20 to operate CMVs in interstate commerce. Specifically, FMCSA proposes to allow drivers to participate in the program if they fall within one of two categories: 18- to 20-year-old CDL holders who take part in a 120-hour probationary period and a subsequent 280-hour probationary period under an apprenticeship program established by an employer, or 19- to 20-year-old CDL holders who operated CMVs in intrastate commerce for a minimum of one year and 25,000 miles.

The agency seeks to include approximately 200 young drivers in the program. It plans to prohibit drivers from operating vehicles hauling passengers or hazardous materials or special configuration vehicles (e.g., doubles, triples, cargo tanks). FMCSA also plans to require younger drivers to have completed CDL training that meets the entry-level driver training rule standards before obtaining their CDLs. FMCSA expects the pilot program to run for three years.

During the pilot program, the agency aims to collect data on crashes and traffic citations, among others.

FMCSA is also seeking comments on several questions, including whether it should limit the distance that younger drivers would be allowed to operate (e.g., 150- or 250-air-mile radius) or whether participation should be limited to drivers who have not been involved in a preventable crash in the past. The agency’s proposal notes that drivers under the age of 21 are currently permitted to operate CMVs in intrastate commerce in 49 states and the District of Columbia.

FMCSA requires comments to be submitted on or before November 9.

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

*Not admitted in the District of Columbia; practice is supervised by principals of the firm.

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