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FMCSA Final Hours of Service Rules Increases Flexibility

By Vineet Baid on May 17, 2020




On May 14th, the FMCSA made four changes to the Hours of Service rules. These changes are on track to be implemented on September of this year. Elaine L. Chao, the US Secretary of Transportation says the changes will “increase safety and flexibility for America’s truckers”. Additionally, the FMCSA has projected that the 30-minute break modification rule will result in $2.81 billion in savings for motor carriers over the next 10 years. 

The four changes are discussed in detail below:

FMCSA Rule Modification Recent

 

Short-haul Exception Change

Summary: Short-haul air mile range qualification has increased from 100 air miles to 150 air miles for CDL drivers. Additionally, the working day which used to allow 12 hours between start and finish has been increased to 14 hours. 

Past: CDL license truckers who drive within a 100 air mile radius of their reporting location would fall under short-haul rules and be exempt from ELD. 

Rule Change: CDL licensed truck drivers will now have a 150 air mile radius to count as short-haul. 

Note, this is the air mile radius, not the total number of miles that a truck driver is allowed to drive per day. A truck driver can drive as many miles as is needed, as long as the truck stays within a 150 air-mile radius of the work reporting location. 

There is no change in the air-mile radius for non-CDL short-haul drivers. 

Past: Short-haul truck drivers were required to be back to and released from their work reporting location within 12 hours of starting on duty time.

Rule Change: This requirement has been increased to 14 hours.

With the 11-hour driving limit still in place, this increases the number of hours per day that a short-haul driver can be on-duty. 

This HOS rule change will increase the number of carriers who can qualify as short-haul due to the increase in radius. Additionally, with 14 hours of duty period instead of 12 hours, there is more flexibility for the driver. Lastly, since there is an ELD exemption for short-haul drivers who occasionally have to go long-haul for 8 days or less in a 30-day period, this may cause more carriers to be exempt from ELD. See full list of eld exemptions to learn more.

30-minute Break Modification

Summary: If more than 8 hours have passed since an on-duty event or a driving event, then a 30 minute off duty event is required. Now, this is only required if 8 hours have passed since a driving event. Also, the 30 minutes of break can be any non-driving event which includes on-duty.  

Past: 30 minutes of break required within 8 hours of starting an on-duty or driving event.

Rule Change: 30 minutes of break required only within 8 hours of starting a driving event.

This change makes it so that on-duty time doesn’t start the clock for requiring a break. When truck drivers start the day with a DVIR that on-duty time will not start the clock for requiring a break. Only when the first driving event occurs is when the break time countdown will start. 

Past: 30 minutes of break time could be off-duty or sleeper berth.

Rule Change: All non-driving events count as break time including on-duty.

After 8 hours from a driving event a 30-minute break is required. This 30-minute break time can now include on-duty work. So off duty, sleeper berth, and on duty can all be counted towards the 30-minute break.

With this modification a truck driver has an additional 30 minutes of on-duty time at his or her disposal. Note, there is no modification to the 14-hour driving window. Going on duty at the start of the day does start the 14-hour countdown for the day. 

Adverse Driving Condition Exception Change

Summary: Adverse driving increases the 14-hour daily driving window to 16-hour driving window. 

Past: An adverse driving condition would allow a truck driver to increase driving limit from 11 hours to 13 hours a day, but not increase the 14-hour daily driving window. 

Rule Change: Adverse driving condition still increases driving limit from 11 hours to 13 hours in a day AND also increases the daily driving window from 14 hours to 16 hours a day. 

This allows a truck driver to wait and stay off the roads or to drive slowly so that there is no rush to complete all daily work within 14 hours. 

Split-Sleeper Berth Change

Summary: Reduced from 8 hours required in sleeper to 7 hours required. Also both breaks are not counted towards 14-hour driving window.

Past: Requires 8 hours minimum in continuous sleeper berth along with 2 hours off duty, personal conveyance, or sleeper in order to use the split sleeper exception. 

Rule Change: Requires 7 hours minimum in continuous sleeper and at least 2 hours in off duty, personal conveyance, or sleeper but both should combine to a minimum of 10 hours in order to use split sleeper exception.

This reduces sleeper berth requirement to go from a continuous 8 hours to now a continuous 7 hours. The total between the 2 periods still needs to add up to at least 10 hours. So, if the sleeper berth is for 7 hours then the second period has to be at least 3 hours to make it a combined 10 hours off duty. 

Also, the smaller one still needs to be a minimum of 2 continuous hours. So, if someone does 9 hours in Sleeper Berth, their smaller off duty still has to be 2 hours.  

Past: The longer Sleeper time doesn’t count towards 14-hour clock, but the smaller off duty time does count toward 14-hour driving window.

Rule Change: Both long sleeper AND smaller off-duty periods don’t count towards the 14-hour driving window.

This increases the on-duty time and gives a bit more flexibility to those who are using split sleeper berth.

The 4 changes will be implemented 120 days after date of publication in the in the Federal Register. The expectation is that these changes will be implemented some time in September. UPDATE: Theses changes will be implemented on September 29, 2020. Our ELD app will have these changes ready the day that implementation begins. 




Vineet Baid

Vineet Baid
Like the simple things in life like chocolates, beer, and fries.


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