The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on Aug. 14 issued a proposed rule to revamp the Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulation that governs truck driver work and rest periods.
The proposal, which was praised by the American Trucking Associations, maintains the rule’s overall core principles – including prohibiting drivers from driving more than eight consecutive hours without a 30 minute break. However, regulators outlined five amendments to the rule, including increasing flexibility for the 30-minute break rule.
Of specific interest to truckstops and travel plazas that own and operate trucks, the proposal would expand the current 100 air-mile “shorthaul” exemption to 14 hours on duty, up from 12 hours, to better align it with the workday rules for longhaul truck drivers. It also extends the distance limit to 150 miles, up from 100 miles.
Expanding the short haul exemption would increase the number of hazardous materials drivers who qualify for short haul status and provide increased driver scheduling flexibility. The change would eliminate the electronic HOS recording requirement for drivers who currently drive beyond a 100 air-mile radius but remain within 150 air-miles from their work reporting location at the start of their daily shift.
Among its other amendments, the proposed rule would Increase flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by requiring a break after 8 hours of driving time and allowing the requirement to be satisfied by an on-duty break from driving, rather than requiring that it count as an off-duty break.
It also would allow one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than 3 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.
The proposal further seeks to extend on-duty time for drivers encountering adverse weather by two hours and modifies the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10- hours off duty into two periods. One period would need to be at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth. The other period, of not less than 2 consecutive hours, must be either off duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither period would count against the driver's 14-hour driving window.
The Notice of Proposed rulemaking also posed questions about other HOS-related topics that the agency is considering as part of the rulemaking. The proposal is open for public comment for 45 days.
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