FMCSA Proposes Changes to the Hours of Service Rules

The proposed rules aims to enhance safety by allowing commercial drivers to have more flexibility while maintaining the safety limits on driving times.

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Since the government placed a mandatory 30-minute rest break for all drivers in 2012, the trucking industry has been working to end it and allow states more flexibility in how CDL licenses are issued.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published its proposed rulemaking on changes to the hours of service (HOS) rules to increase safety on roadways by updating existing regulations for commercial vehicle (CMV) drivers.

FMCSA wants drivers and all CMV stakeholders to share their thoughts and opinions on the proposed changes to hours of service rules that we are putting forward today. We listened directly to the concerns of drivers for rules that are safer and have more flexibility—and we have acted. We encourage everyone to review and comment on this proposal,” says FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.

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The proposed rules aims to enhance safety by allowing commercial drivers to have more flexibility while maintaining the safety limits on driving times. Since the rule was first adopted in 1937, it specified the allotted operating hours for commercial drivers. Last year, FMCSA authored an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to receive public comment on portions of the HOS rules to alleviate unnecessary burdens placed on drivers while maintaining safety on the road. In return, the agency received over 5,000 public comments.

FMCSA's proposed rule on hours of service offers five key revisions to the existing HOS rules:

  • Increase safety and flexibility for the 30 minute break rule by tying the break requirement to eight hours of driving time without an interruption for at least 30 minutes, allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on duty, not driving status, rather than off duty.
  • Modify the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: one period of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than two consecutive hours, either off duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither period would count against the driver's 14-hour driving window.
  • Allow one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than three hours, that would pause a truck driver's 14-hour driving window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.
  • Modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted
  • A change to the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers by lengthening the drivers' maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

While the proposal is aimed at improving safety on the roadways, the proposed rule would not increase driving time and would continue to prevent CMV operators from driving for more than eight consecutive hours without at least a 30-minute change in duty status.

In addition, the proposed changes to the hours of service rule will save $274 million for the U.S. economy and American consumers.