Hours of service explained on latest ‘Live From Exit 24’ episode

August 12, 2020

Mark Schremmer

|

Two leaders of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration appeared on the Wednesday, Aug. 12, episode of “Live From Exit 24” to answer truck drivers’ questions about the new hours-of-service regulations.

FMCSA acting Administrator Jim Mullen and Joe DeLorenzo, the agency’s acting associate administrator of enforcement, were guests on OOIDA’s new internet talk show. Mullen and DeLorenzo provided insight into the new rules that are set to take effect on Sept. 29.

FMCSA says the new hours-of-service rules are intended to provide more flexibility to commercial drivers.

  • The on-duty limits for short-haul operations will increase from 12 to 14 hours and from 100 air-miles to 150.
  • The adverse driving provision will extend the driving window two hours if the driver encounters adverse driving conditions. In the final rule, the definition of “adverse driving” was modified so that the exception may be applied based on the driver’s (in addition to the dispatcher’s) knowledge of the conditions after being dispatched.
  • In addition to splits of 10/0 and 8/2, drivers will be allowed a split-sleeper option of 7/3. Also, the qualifying period doesn’t count against the 14-hour window.
  • The 30-minute break provision will be modified to require the break after eight hours of driving time (instead of on-duty time) and allows an on-duty/not driving period to qualify as the required break.

“This is our way of modernizing the regulations to make sure that we improve not only truck and bus safety but highway safety in general,” Mullen said. “Of course, safety is our core mission.

“We listened very closely to drivers and folks like OOIDA and other associations and other stakeholders. This is what they requested. The administration listened, and we took action. We are very bullish on the safety benefits that will be provided by allowing the drivers to have more flexibility in deciding when they should and shouldn’t be driving.”

DeLorenzo fielded questions regarding the split-sleeper, the 30-minute break, and the adverse driving provision of the hours-of-service regulations.

Split-sleeper

Many of the questions involved the changes to the split-sleeper rules.

Mike from New Jersey asked if you could take five hours and then seven hours instead of three and seven.

“The way the regulation reads is ‘at least,’ so there is not a limit on how much could be excluded,” DeLorenzo said. “So in your example, if you took five hours as your short period all of that would be excluded from your 14. My only advice there for everybody is that if you want to make your day work the best as everybody starts using this, really think about those time periods and how they would be advantageous for you. If you’re at five-and-a-half or six, you could take seven and make that your anchor period and only have to take three later. But I know you don’t always have complete control over that. You may need to get rolling and you ended up with five off. But either way that five still needs to be paired with at least a seven.”

In response to another question regarding the split-sleeper, DeLorenzo reminded drivers that the longer of the two periods must be spent in the sleeper berth, so the exemption will not apply to truckers without a sleeper.

30-minute break

Jim from North Dakota wanted to know if the 30-minute break could be split up into segments.

DeLorenzo said the break must be 30 consecutive minutes but the key change is that it now can be taken during on-duty, nondriving time, such as while getting fuel or doing a maintenance check.

“It has to be 30 consecutive minutes, but it can be on-duty not driving, off-duty or some combination thereof,” he said. “So as long as you are not in driving status for 30 minutes, that counts as a qualifying 30-minute break. However, I will also note that the other really important change to the 30-minute break is that you only need to take a 30-minute break if you’ve driven for eight hours without taking a break of at least 30 minutes.”

DeLorenzo said truckers utilizing the split-sleeper options probably won’t need to take a separate 30-minute break.

“I think the likelihood that you would need to take a 30-minute break is a lot less, especially if you are taking the split-sleeper scenario,” he said.

In response to another caller, DeLorenzo clarified that a “yard move” or parking your truck after fueling would not end your 30-minute break of nondriving time.

Adverse driving provision in hours-of-service regs

The key to the provision is that can be utilized when the conditions are unforeseen.

“It’s generally things like unexpected weather or a road closure scenario,” DeLorenzo said. “When you left your last qualifying rest period, did you know this was an issue? That’s what makes it ‘adverse driving.’ You took seven hours in your sleeper. You’re ready to roll, and everything looks clear and fine. Then you head down the road, there’s a wreck, and the road gets closed off. That’s the easiest way to explain what adverse driving conditions would be.”

‘Live From Exit 24’

Hosted by OOIDA Manager of Government Affairs Mike Matousek, “Live From Exit 24” was created with the goal of expanding how OOIDA communicates with its members. The show is scheduled for 11 a.m. Central every other Wednesday. The live show encourages truck drivers to call in with a question or comment. To be a part of the show, call 317-67-OOIDA (317-676-6432) at 11 a.m. Central time on Aug. 26.

Listeners can tune in to the show on the “Live From Exit 24” website, OOIDA’s YouTube channel, or on OOIDA’s Facebook page.

TravelCenters

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.