Hours of service set to go into effect by end of September

May 26, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s final rule for changes to its hours-of-service regulations could go into effect as soon as the end of September.

The agency’s final rule is scheduled to publish in the Federal Register on June 1, and changes are set to go into effect 120 days after publication to allow ELD manufacturers to implement programming changes.

Touted as a way to increase flexibility within the hours-of-service regulations, FMCSA unveiled the final rule, which includes four major changes, on May 14.

  • 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 hours-of-service changes won’t solve everything, but the Association does consider the changes to be an improvement.

“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.

While OOIDA asked for a complete removal of the mandatory 30-minute break, the Association said the change would give drivers more flexibility regarding how they can take that break.

“Under the new rules, the 30-minute rest break is only required after eight hours of driving instead of eight hours on-duty,” the Association wrote. “When necessary, the new rules allow you to log the 30-minute break as on-duty not driving, which means you can take it during a fuel stop, at a loading dock, etc.”

In similar fashion, FMCSA’s changes to the split-sleeper provisions moved in the right direction but did not include OOIDA’s request for 6/4 or 5/5 options.

“We also liked the added 7/3 option to split your sleeper-berth time,” OOIDA wrote. “The existing rules only allow 8/2. Yes, we were hoping for a 6/4 and 5/5 option but didn’t get it. However, the change will effectively mean one less wasted hour at a truck stop, rest area, etc.”

The adverse driving provision already existed, but the change could lead to more drivers using it.

“The adverse driving provision was changed by extending the 14-hour clock by two hours,” OOIDA wrote. “Meaning, if you use the adverse driving provision your 14-hour clock becomes a 16-hour clock. So if you have to pull over for bad weather or drive through it slowly, it won’t count against your 14-hour clock.”

Detention time

Although the rule changes do not address detention time, OOIDA said it is continuing to work on the issue.

“Of course, the main issue that drivers have to contend with isn’t the time spent working,” OOIDA wrote. “It’s the time spent waiting to load and unload. Right now, too many end up donating this time without being fairly compensated, often 20-40 hours every week. This specifically costs drivers and undermines the efficiency of the entire supply chain. Throughout the rulemaking, FMCSA mentions worries related to excessive detention time. OOIDA will be holding the agency accountable in addressing these ‘sudden’ concerns and ensuring that drivers are fully paid for all their time.”

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.