FMCSA’s New Hours of Service Rules Set to Start in September

FMCSA’s New Hours of Service Rules Set to Start in September

At the beginning of June 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published the Hours of Service final rule that will change the HOS regulations for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.

The rule focuses on four areas, with changes that were designed to offer commercial drivers more flexibility, while attempting to maintain the highest safety standards. The HOS rule changes were developed utilizing public and industry feedback.


Why are the regulations changing?

The HOS regulation changes are geared towards providing more flexibility for drivers without sacrificing safety. The FMCSA made these changes based on extensive feedback from industry professionals, safety advocacy groups, Congress, and the general public.

FMCSA estimates that modernizing hours of service regulations will provide nearly $274 million in annual economic cost savings.


When do the changes take effect?

Drivers and carriers must abide by the HOS rule changes starting on September 29, 2020.


What is changing?

1. Short-Haul Exception

The short-haul exception maximum allowable workday is changing from 12 to 14 hours, and the distance the driver may operate is extending from a 100 air-mile radius to a 150 air-mile radius.


2. Adverse Driving Conditions Exception

The adverse driving conditions exception is extending the duty day by two hours when adverse driving conditions are encountered. This is in addition to the extra two hours of driving time already allowed. This change applies for both property (14-hour driving window) and passenger (15-hour on-duty limit) motor carriers.


3. 30-Minute Break Requirement

The 30-minute break requirement can now be satisfied by an on-duty, not driving break (in addition to an off-duty break). The requirement for property-carrying drivers is applicable in situations where a driver has driven for a period of 8 hours without at least a 30-minute interruption.


4. Sleeper Berth Provision

The sleeper berth provision allows drivers to split their 10-hour off-duty period in different ways provided one off-duty period (whether in or out of the sleeper berth) is at least 2 hours long, and the other involves at least 7 consecutive hours spent in the sleeper berth. The periods must add up to 10 hours, and when used together, neither time period counts against the maximum 14-hour driving window.


Who must comply?

Compliance is mandatory for any commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver that fits any of these descriptions:

  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards


“This new final rule will improve safety for all motorists and increase flexibility for America’s truckers,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “This has been a deliberate and a careful process provided by the direct feedback we’ve had from truckers, carriers, safety advocates, law enforcement, and concerned residents and citizens.”

Chao highlighted what she called the “tremendous contributions” of America’s truck drivers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. “Truck drivers have been working around the clock to deliver packages to American families, making sure our food shelves are fully stocked and delivering food and products to businesses, and making sure that needed medical supplies and equipment go to where they need to go. So truckers are really American heroes, especially at a time like this,” she said. “Each of these areas of reform are designed to add flexibility and regulatory savings for the motor carrier industry, which is critical for our nation’s economic recovery,” she added.

FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen added that the updates provided in the new rule will assist the motor carrier industry by providing regulatory savings and efficiency during the nation’s time of need. “In the past few months, we have seen the heroic actions that truckers have done to keep up our supply chain, keep it open, and ensure that American families, businesses and hospitals are able to make the deliveries and receive the products that we all need,” he said. “Their efforts have been inspirational and should make all Americans proud.”

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) applauded FMCSA for “taking an active role in receiving input from all stakeholders to craft flexible regulations for the industry while still improving safety, and for also expediting this rule change to provide the maximum benefit.”


For more information on the HOS changes, please click here.


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