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Assessing the New Hours of Service Impact

The hours-of-service rules are changing, and carriers could find these changes increase driver productivity.

author

Daren Hansen - Sr. Editor - Transportation Safety - J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

May 27 , 2020

The hours-of-service rules are changing, and most interstate carriers will find these changes have the potential to increase driver productivity. The FMCSA is amending four significant provisions in the current HOS rules:

  • §395.3(a)(3) -  30-minute break
  • §395.1(e)(1) -  100 air-mile exception
  • §395.1(g)(1) -  Sleeper-berth options
  • §395.1(b)(1) -  Adverse conditions

The FMCSA first proposed these changes to the hours-of-service rules in 2018. The final changes were adopted after the agency reviewed more than 8,000 public comments. The new rules apply to all interstate CMV drivers, and states have three years to adopt equivalent rules for in-state drivers.

What is the New Hours of Service 30-Minute Break Rule?

The new hours-of-service rule requires interstate CMV drivers to take a 30-minute break from driving after having driven for eight hours (under current rules, a break is required after eight consecutive hours on duty). Additionally, drivers may now remain on duty (not driving) during their breaks, whereas current rules say the break must be off duty.

What is the New Hours of Service 100 Air-Mile Exception Rule?

The new hours-of-service rule allows 14 consecutive hours for work rather than 12 consecutive hours. It also allows drivers to operate within a 150 air-mile radius versus the current 100 air-mile limit.

What is the New Hours of Service Split-Sleeper Berth Rule?

For interstate CMV drivers who wish to “split” their mandatory 10-hour break into two separate breaks using a sleeper berth, the new hours-of-service rule requires drivers to spend at least seven consecutive hours in the berth and another break to reach 10 hours. Current hours-of-service rules require at least eight consecutive hours in the berth.

Additionally, neither rest break will count against the 14-hour limit (under current rules, the shorter break counts against the limit).  Finally, before or after spending at least 7 hours in a sleeper berth, a team driver may ride in the passenger seat to complete a 10-consecutive-hour break (current rules allow only 2 hours in the passenger seat).

What is the New Hours of Service Adverse Conditions Rule?

The new hours-of-service rule allows interstate CMV drivers to extend both the driving and on-duty limits by 2 hours when eligible for the exception (i.e., 13 hours driving in a 16-hour window for truck drivers, or 12 hours driving in a 17-hour on-duty period for bus drivers).  The current rules allow drivers to extend the driving limit by 2 hours but not the on-duty limit (e.g., 13 hours driving in a 14-hour window).

How Will the New Hours of Service Rule Impact My Operation?

The new hours-of-service rules provide benefits for fleets, including more time to drive and more miles for ELD exempt driving. More specific impacts are listed below by each hours-of-service.

 

NEW HOURS OF SERVICE RULE 

NEW HOURS OF SERVICE RULE IMPACTS

30-minute breaks
truck
  • No need to stop work activities for 30 minutes every eight hours.
  • Drivers may load/unload, do vehicle inspections or paperwork, or other work activities.
  • More drivers will be exempt from breaks since it applies after eight hours of driving.
  • Violations are common today but should significantly decrease.
100 air-mile exception
truck & bus
  • Many more drivers will be exempt from logs/ELDs, 30-minute breaks, and supporting docs.
  • Many drivers using logs and ELDs today will be able to switch to basic time records.
  • Adds 57.5 statute miles to the radius (115  172), which more than doubles the geographic area.
  • The addition of two hours allows more flexibility to drive a full 11 hours. This may reduce auditor time spent determining who is eligible but may also cause more scrutiny from enforcement officials.
  • There were no changes to the current 150-air-mile exception for non-CDL truck drivers.
Split-sleeper provision
truck 
  • Individual/team drivers who “split” their 10-hour break will have slightly more flexibility in deciding the length of the breaks and in dealing with delays, traffic, etc.
  • Drivers will gain up to three hours more productivity since neither rest break counts against the 14-hour limit (the two-hour break currently does).
  • More drivers may be inclined to try the split-sleeper option as a way to deal with delays, traffic, etc.
Adverse conditions
truck & bus
  • Use is still restricted to unforeseeable weather or traffic events.
  • More drivers will be eligible to take advantage of the full two-hour extension (drivers are less likely to hit the on-duty window before using all their driving time).
  • More drivers will be able to “wait out” unexpected weather or traffic conditions.

 

The new rule will be effective at the end of September, 120 days after publication in the Federal Register, which is expected June 1st.

 

 


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