Unlike many changes to the federal safety regulations, some motor carriers and drivers are looking forward to the newest revisions to the hours-of-service (HOS) rules.
The new requirements offer more flexibility and may give some drivers the opportunity to forego the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs). The following summarizes the changes scheduled to go into effect Sept. 29, 2020.
The 30-Minute Break
The previous version of the rest-break rules required truck drivers to stop all work activities for 30 minutes every eight consecutive hours.
However, the new HOS regulations are less stringent by:
- Allowing drivers to remain on duty for their breaks, as long as they’re not driving; and
- Requiring the break after accumulating eight hours of driving time.
As a result, some drivers will not be subject to a 30-minute break at all, while others will not need one until later in their day.
The 100 air-mile radius exception for truck drivers was modified under the new HOS rules by:
- Extending it to 150 air-miles, and
- Increasing the 12-hour limit to 14.
These changes allow more drivers to take advantage of the exception. Those that qualify are exempt from:
- Using logs/ELDs,
- Taking 30-minute breaks, and
- Being required to keep the supporting documents listed under §395.11.
Note that the new rules do not amend the current 150-air-mile exception for non-CDL truck drivers, found in §395.1(e)(2).
Split Sleeper Berth
Drivers with sleeper berths will have more options when it comes to splitting their 10-hour breaks. Specifically, the new rules allow a “7/3” split option in addition to an “8/2” split, and qualifying breaks will no longer count against the 14-hour limit.
Adverse Driving Conditions
The new rules provide two additional hours of on-duty time to deal with or wait out adverse driving conditions, as defined in §395.2.
For truck drivers, all driving will need to be done within 16 consecutive hours. The previous rules only extended driving time, not on-duty time.
Time to Switch
Because the new rules are less stringent, motor carriers may continue to use the previous limits even after Sept. 29, 2020, though they would miss out on the new flexibility the rules provide.
Before switching to the new regulations, motor carriers should:
- Train all affected employees, making sure everyone understands how the rules will impact the operation (including fatigue and use of ELDs/logs); and
- Update and distribute their policies and procedures, clearly communicating the company’s expectations.
With some careful consideration and advance planning, transitioning to the new rules should be a smooth process that benefits your drivers.
About the Author: Kathy Close is a transportation editor at J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. Her areas of expertise include transportation security, DOT drug and alcohol testing, and driver qualification. For more information e-mail email@example.com.