For several months, the fleet industry has waited to hear the proposed Hours of Service (HoS) rule changes. Though the official announcement was delayed several times, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the changes on Wednesday, August 14.
We’ve covered these five proposed changes and the effects they will have below. Though the DOT has announced the changes, it’s unlikely they will go into effect until the end of 2020. Over the next 45 days, the public is invited to comment on the proposed changes. These comments will help officials decide if further changes should be made and if they should issue the final rule. Since these changes affect HoS tracking, the FMCSA has also asked ELD manufacturers to determine if six months or a year is long enough to reprogram devices and/or update their software.
While there are many unknowns, it’s important to know what’s happening with HoS rules so you can best prepare for the changes to come.
1. Offering greater 30-minute break flexibility
Currently, drivers have to change their status to “off-duty” when taking their 30-minute break after eight hours of driving. With the proposed changes, drivers will be able to take this break whenever they’re not in “driving” status, even if they remain on-duty. Since they’ll be able to take required breaks while waiting for loading or unloading, the FMCSA is hoping this will help limit reckless driving and improve driver safety.
2. Splitting the sleeper-berth exemption
With this change, truck drivers would be able to split their required 10 hours of off-duty time. As long as they spend at least seven consecutive hours in their sleeper berth, they’d be able to spend at least two hours in their sleeper berth or off-duty at another time. Neither period would affect their 14-hour driving window.
3. Putting the 14-hour driving window on pause
If a driver took a 30-minute to three-hour break within the 14-hour driving window, it would put this time on pause. Drivers would also have to be off-duty for 10 hours after this shift to use this exception.
4. Extending the adverse driving conditions exceptions
In the event of adverse driving conditions, drivers would have their 14-hour driving windows increased by an additional two hours.
5. Lengthening the short-haul exception
Drivers who meet the short-haul exception would now have 14 hours, compared to the current 12, of on-duty time. The distance limit would also be increased, from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.
What are your thoughts on the proposed HoS rule changes?