Hours of service plan set to go into effect Sept. 29

June 1, 2020

Mark Schremmer


Updated rules for hours of service are scheduled to go into effect on Sept. 29.

FMCSA’s final rule for changes to its hours-of-service regulations published in the Federal Register on Monday, June 1. Any petitions for reconsideration must be submitted by July 1.

The agency’s plan for reform was originally released on May 14. It includes four major changes.

  • 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 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.

OOIDA said these changes won’t solve everything, but the Association does see the changes as an improvement. OOIDA requested the agency to provide additional split-sleeper options and to entirely eliminate the 30-minute break requirement. The Association also originally proposed a provision that would allow drivers to pause the clock for up to three hours.

“Do we think the provisions are great? No. Do we think they are a step in the right direction? Absolutely,” OOIDA wrote to its members in an informational update on May 15.

FMCSA maintains that the hours-of-service final rule will result in increased flexibility for drivers without decreasing safety.

The agency also said changes are estimated to provide nearly $274 million in annualized cost savings for the U.S. economy and American consumers.

“The flexibilities in this final rule are intended to allow drivers to shift their drive and work time to mitigate the impacts of certain variables (weather, traffic, detention times, etc.) and to take breaks without penalty when they need rest,” the agency wrote in the final rule notice. “FMCSA does not anticipate that any of these time shifts will negatively impact drivers’ health.”

The final rule was prompted by the request for more flexibility within the hours of service. Echoed by many of the more than 8,000 comments submitted to FMCSA during the advance notice of proposed rulemaking and notice of proposed rulemaking stages, truckers said safety would increase by allowing them to drive when they deemed it safe to do so and for them to stop when they didn’t.

“After a lengthy regulatory process, truckers will soon have a little bit more control over their daily schedules,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh said when the plan was released on May 14. “While we were hoping for some additional changes, such as more split-sleeper options and more flexibility to use the 30-minute break, all things considered we’re happy with the final rule.

“FMCSA is always in a tough spot when it comes to regulatory reform, and finding a balance to make all parties happy is virtually impossible. Nothing is easy in D.C., but this is a step in the right direction.”

Mark Schremmer

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.