Today is the day that the FMCSA will officially begin enforcing the new hours of service regulations for all commercial motor vehicles. Long-haul truck drivers will feel the most impact from the HOS changes, along with their employers and the shippers/brokers who hire them. Schedules will need to be adjusted to account for fewer miles traveled per day and the change to on-duty vs. off-duty definitions. Drivers will likely see a forced reduction in total work hours – resulting in a possible pay cut – due to the mandatory breaks and 34-hour restart.
The following is a summary of updated hours of service rules, according to the FMCSA.
- 11-Hour Driving Limit: The FMCSA kept the 11-hour daily driving limit in the final rule.
- 30-Minute Breaks: The final rule prohibits a driver from driving a commercial motor vehicle if more than 8 hours on duty have passed since the last break (either off duty or sleeper berth time) of at least 30 minutes. Under the final rule, for example, if the driver started driving immediately after coming on duty, he or she could drive for 8 consecutive hours, take a half-hour break, and then drive another 3 hours, for a total of 11 hours. If a driver worked in a warehouse or did other non-driving functions for 3 hours after coming on duty, and then began driving, the driver would require a 30-minute break after 5 hours driving before being able to drive again. The driver could then drive 6 more consecutive hours for a total of 11 hours.
- 34-Hour Restart: The rule makes two changes to the 34-hour weekly restart provision. First, a driver may use the restart provision only once every week (defined as 168 consecutive hours). Second, the restart must include 34 consecutive hours off duty with two periods of 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
- Weekly On-Duty Limits: The rule does not change the 60-hour or 70-hour weekly on-duty limits.
- 14-Hour Driving Window: The maximum driving window will continue to be 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty. Because of the break provision, drivers will be able to work 13.5 hours in the 14-hour period (if they are driving after the 8th hour on duty).
- Requirements at the End of the Driving Window: Drivers may remain on-duty at the end of the 14th hour, but may not drive again until at least 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- Sleeper Berth: The final rule made no changes to the sleeper berth requirements.
- Definition of On-Duty Time: The FMCSA amended the definition of on-duty time to exclude any time resting in a parked CMV. In a moving CMV, on-duty time does not include up to 2 hours in the passenger seat immediately before or after 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth.
- Penalties: Driving (or allowing a driver to drive) three or more hours beyond the driving-time limit may be considered an egregious violation and is subject to the maximum civil penalties.
In February 2012 trucking advocates and public safety advocates both filed lawsuits against the FMCSA’s December 2011 HOS rule – the trucking groups indicated the rule is overly burdensome on the industry while the public safety advocates believed it didn’t go far enough. In March 2013, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments but the court has yet to make a ruling on the case. As such the new rules are in effect as of today.
Additional information can be found through the following links:
- You can download a cabcard that summarizes the new rules from FMCSA.
- Summary of how new HOS rules compare to the old ones from FMCSA.
- FMCSA has also published an “Interstate Truck Drivers Guide to Hours of Service.”
- There are also answers to frequently asked questions about hours of service.