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U.S. Announces Final Driver Hours-of-Service (HOS) Rules

  • May 20, 2020
  • Madeline S.

The trucking industry has been unhappy with the strict hours-of-service (HOS) regulations since they were put in place. While all in the industry understand the need to address issues such as driver fatigue, most believe the current rules are far too strict. The most common criticism of the HOS rules in the U.S. is that they are not flexible enough to account for real-world delays such as traffic, weather, or long load times.

The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has been reviewing proposed changes for months now and they have finally issued its long-awaited final rule on changes to the driver hours-of-service HOS regulations.

Four new key provisions will be inserted to increase driver flexibility and these changes are estimated to generate $274 million in cost savings for the U.S. economy.

“The Department of Transportation and the Trump Administration listened directly to the concerns of truckers seeking rules that are safer and have more flexibility – and we have acted,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen. “These updated hours of service rules are based on the thousands of comments we received from the American people. These reforms will improve safety on America’s roadways and strengthen the nation’s motor carrier industry.”

The final rule makes the following changes to the current HOS regulations:

• Increased flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by requiring a break after 8 hours of consecutive driving. This break can now be satisfied by a driver using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty, meaning a driver can now take their break during long load times.

• Modified the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods. Drivers either do an 8/2 split or a 7/3 split. Neither period will count against the driver’s 14-hour driving window.

• Modified the adverse driving conditions exceptions by extending the maximum window of permitted driving by two hours. This will allow drivers to finish trips or find a safe spot to stop if they are delayed.

• Changed the short-haul exception available to some commercial drivers by extending a driver’s maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours. The distance limit that drivers can operate in was also extended from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

These new rules are scheduled to go into effect 120 days after they are published. U.S. truck drivers, and Canadian truck drivers that do cross-border trips, could soon be enjoying these loosened regulations. Drivers should keep updated on the changes in order to stay compliant.

Want to learn more about Hours of Service regulations? Enroll in our Hours of Service and Log Book training course.