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FMCSA Announces Changes to Hours of Service Rule

On May 14th, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced four significant changes to the Hours of Service (HOS) regulation for CMV drivers. These changes go into effect on September 29, 2020. The proposed changes include:

30-Minute Break Rule

Rather than consecutive time, the 30-minute break requirement is applicable only when a driver has driven for a period of 8 hours without at least a 30-minute non-driving interruption. This allows the break to be satisfied by a driver using on-duty, non-driving status, rather than off-duty, which should result in fewer violations beyond the 8-hour limit.

Sleeper Berth Requirements

Drivers will be able to split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods. For the first period, the driver must spend at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth. For the second period, the driver must spend at least 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth or off duty. Neither period would count against the 14-hour driving window.

Adverse Driving Conditions Exception

Even though the definition of “adverse driving condition” remains relatively unchanged, the adverse driving conditions exception has been modified. When driving is permitted, the adverse driving conditions exception will now extend the driving window by 2 hours for truck and bus operations.

Short Haul Drivers Exception

According to the FMCSA, the goal of this proposed change is to “improve efficiency without compromising safety by providing flexibility for drivers in four areas without changing the maxim allowable driving time.” The changes to this exception lengthens the drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extends the distance limit from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

While these proposed changes affect commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers, it is also important for employers to understand these updated changes and inform their fleet of drivers. It is expected that these changes will be published in the Federal Register in the next few days and will likely go into effect in fall 2020.

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