On Thursday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made the highly anticipated announcement that they have finalized the new 2020 rules for Hours of Service (HOS), granting drivers greater flexibility on debated issues including 30-minute breaks, off-duty splits, adverse weather, and short-haul exemptions.
The HOS, which are federal regulations intended to improve highway safety by limiting how many hours commercial drivers are allowed to drive and remain on duty, were updated after previous rulings drew scrutiny for being what many in the industry considered unreasonably rigid.
Speaking on the changes, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said, “America’s truckers are doing a heroic job keeping our supply chains open during this unprecedented time and these rules will provide them greater flexibility to keep America moving.”
The update comes after a lengthy period in which the public were invited to share comments on what changes they felt would benefit commercial drivers while continuing to promote highway safety. The FMCSA received over 8,000 comments pushing for improved flexibility for drivers.
“The Department of Transportation and the Trump Administration listened directly to the concerns of truckers seeking rules that are safer and have more flexibility—and we have acted. These updated hours of service rules are based on the thousands of comments we received from the American people. These reforms will improve safety on America’s roadways and strengthen the nation’s motor carrier industry,” stated FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen.
Changes to previous HOS requirements include the following:
Old Ruling: Drivers are required to take a 30-minute break while off duty within their first eight hours on duty.
2020 Update: Drivers are permitted to take a 30-minute break while on duty and not driving within their first eight hours of drive time.
Old Ruling: Drivers can divide their 10-hour off-duty time into an eight-hour/two-hour split, with the shorter split counting against the 14-hour on-duty time.
2020 Update: Drivers can opt for the 8/2 split, or a 7/3 split. Neither shift counts against the 14-hour on-duty time.
Old Ruling: Drivers can increase their 11-hour drive time by two hours for bad weather conditions, but not their 14-hour on-duty clock.
2020 Update: Drivers can increase their 11-hour drive time and their 14-hour on duty clock by two hours for bad weather conditions, totaling 13 hours of drive time and 16 hours on duty.
Old Ruling: Drivers don’t have to maintain duty status records when operating within 100 air-miles of their base, and are limited to a 12-hours on-duty.
2020 Update: Drivers don’t have to maintain duty status records when operating within 150 air-miles of their base, and are limited to a 14-hours on-duty.
Publication of the final rule is anticipated in the Federal Register next week and will go into effect 120 days following publication.