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‘Flexible’ Hours of Service Final Rule has been submitted to White House for approval

Flexible Hours Of Services Submitted To White House For Approval
Flexible Hours Of Services Submitted To White House For Approval

On Aug. 23, 2019, the FMCSA published a notice of proposed rulemaking on changes to HOS regulations, including five key provisions:

  • Adding flexibility to the 30-minute break

  • Modifying the sleeper berth exception

  • Introducing a way to pause the 14-hour clock

  • Modifying the adverse driving conditions provision

  • Proposing a change to the short-haul exception

At the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) Conference in Orlando, Florida, FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen announced that the agency was moving forward with proposed changes to Hours of Service. The Final Rule was filed with the OMB on Monday, March 2.

Mullen said, “After carefully reviewing these comments, I am pleased to announce today that FMCSA is moving forward with a final rule on hours-of-service and that the Agency has sent a final rule to the OMB for review. While I can’t go into the specifics of this final rule, please know that the goal of this process from the beginning has been to improve safety for all motorists and to increase flexibility for commercial drivers.”

Changes to federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations have been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for final review after two years of revisions and thousands of public comments.

  • Increasing 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 and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty

  • Modifying 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. According to the proposal, neither period would count against the driver’s 14‑hour driving window.

  • Allowing 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.

  • Modifying the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.

  • Changing the short-haul exception by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on‑duty period from 12 hours to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

Only time will tell to see if all parties agree and when it is finally implemented. The FMCSA has been at work on new Hours of Service regulations since August of 2018 when it published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making and asked for public comment on several aspects of Hours of Service reform. The FMCSA received more than 5,200 comments — many of them coming from truck drivers asking for relief from the strict regulations that they say could force them to drive while fatigued.


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