Hours of Service: What’s New with That?
Bureaucracy sure runs slowly, but when change happens, you better be ready.
Hours of Service changes can have a massive impact on the profitability of your trucking business, whether you’re and owner-operator or a fleet owner. Hours of service is a hot topic in trucking, particularly after the implementation of Electronic Logging Device (ELD) regulation. Truckers and managers alike fought to maintain their ability to log their own hours. Ultimately, the law went into effect and failure to comply can incur hefty fines.
Now, it looks like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is looking to loosen the rules. So far there are five proposed changes to the Hours of Service requirements, though on four will impact long-haul drivers. Though not all of them are guaranteed to go into effect, they are all on the table.
The first change, one drivers and carriers will like, is a change to the 30-minute break rule. The new version would only require a 30-minute break after eight consecutive hours of driving time, not on-duty time. It also allows the break to be satisfied by on-duty/non-driving time. So if your driver stops for fuel, that can count as the break.
The second change allows drivers to split their required 10 hours off into two periods: one of at least seven hours in the sleeper berth and another of no less than two hours either off-duty or in the sleeper berth.
Another change drivers and carriers alike will appreciate is allowing one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes but less than three hours that would pause the driver’s 14-hour on-duty window. This change means drivers can pause somewhere to wait out rush hour without it affecting their maximum on-duty time. As with the previous version of the rule, this allowance is contingent upon drivers taking 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.
A final change affecting long-haul drivers is a modification to the adverse driving conditions exception. The new rule would add two hours to the maximum window during which driving is permitted. This would allow the workday to extend as along as 16 hours in cases of adverse conditions.
While many drivers and fleet owners alike are skeptical of any changes, these proposed changes could be a good thing. All four provide drivers more freedom when choosing what’s best for them. And rest assured, these are just proposed changes, so nothing is set in stone.