May 14 the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a final rule updating hours of service (HOS) regulations to increase safety on America’s roadways by updating existing regulations for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. In summary, the rule:
- expands the short-haul exception to 150 air-miles and allows a 14-hour work shift to take place as part of the exception;
- expands the driving window during adverse driving conditions by up to an additional 2 hours;
- requires a 30-minute break after 8 hours of driving time (instead of on-duty time) and allows an on-duty/not driving period to qualify as the required break; and
- modifies the sleeper berth exception to allow a driver to meet the 10-hour minimum off-duty requirement by spending at least 7, rather than at least 8 hours of that period in the berth and a minimum off-duty period of at least 2 hours spent inside or outside of the berth, provided the two periods total at least 10 hours, and that neither qualifying period counts against the 14-hour driving window.
The new HOS rule is being welcomed by many stakeholders, such as the American Trucking Associations (ATA), as it substantially improves regulatory flexibility, while still maintaining on-road safety.