Hours-of-Service rules

New Hours-of-Service Rules: How Carriers Can Benefit

Carriers have come a long way over the past few years when it comes to beneficial changes to electronic logging devices (ELD) mandates and hours-of-service (HOS) regulations promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA):

  • December 2017: ELD mandate reduced flexibility of paper, and congressional pressure eliminated older ELDs for some segments.
  • August 2018: FMCSA provided advance notice of proposed rulemaking.
  • August 2019: FMCSA proposed changes.
  • June 2020: The Trump administration finalized HOS rule changes.
  • September 2020: New HOS rules became effective (built on a sturdy foundation of existing rules, including 11 hours max drive time, standard 14-hour driving window, 10 hrs. off duty, 34-hr. restart, and rules surrounding ELDs, for example).

New Hours-of-Service rules can work for you and your truck drivers
While FMCSA designed HOS changes to ensure more flexibility and safety, these new regulations can also end up saving carriers money and time by enhancing productivity and operational efficiency:

  • Adverse driving conditions. Snow, sleet, fog, unusual road and traffic conditions, and falling rocks on the route are rarely known to a truck driver immediately before beginning his/her duty day or immediately before driving after a qualifying rest break or sleeper-berth period. Likewise, a motor carrier rarely knows about adverse conditions in advance of dispatching the driver. The new rule extends the driving window by two hours and gives drivers leeway to determine adverse driving conditions to help carriers and drivers adapt.
  • BENEFITS: New rules create an incentive for drivers to slow down for safety. It also gives them leeway to assess risk in some circumstances. Note: Loading or unloading delay or typical rush hour traffic do not constitute adverse driving conditions.
  • Change to short-haul definition/scope. Expanding the short-haul range from a 100-air-mile radius to a 150-air-mile radius (172 road miles) –where 12 to 14 consecutive hours to complete run with an 11-hour driving limit still applies–companies need not keep paper logs or use ELDs. However, those that choose to use ELDs for short-haul drivers need only capture the ELD record that verifies time-card requirements (start, stop-times).
  • BENEFITS: By redefining short-haul mileage to 150 air miles, carriers can categorize more drivers as short-haul. Short-haul drivers can also drive farther and serve more customers, increasing productivity and load scheduling efficiency and reducing pressure to “beat the clock” and administrative burden. (However, truck drivers can exceed 150 miles and move to paper log or up to eight days in any 30 days. Further, there is no rest break requirement, but carriers must be sure the driver returns to their usual work reporting location and are only on duty for 14 consecutive hours. Not all states recognize this change, so it is vital to be sure you know which states you are driving in.)
  • Change to split sleeper berth requirement. The former longest period driving/sleeper birth split option for two drivers was 8/2 (eight hours in berth + two hours in birth or off-duty). But the new longest period must be at least 7 hours (2 drivers – one in berth for seven hours, the other driving three hours—the first driver driving seven hours, the other in the sleeper berth for three hours). Neither off-duty period counts toward the 14-hour window. Both periods must add up to at least 10 hours (7.25 hours + 2.75 hours).
  • BENEFITS. The new rule creates greater operational flexibility and increases the time to complete 11 hours of drive time.
  • Rest break change. The new rules only require a 30-minute rest break after eight cumulative hours of driving (the break can include on-duty non-driving periods or routing activities like loading, unloading, fueling, and paperwork). However, there is no increase in driving time and no driving after the fourteenth hour.
  • BENEFITS: Drivers have more control and flexibility, thanks to shortened on-duty hours (reduced fatigue) and increased control over break-time activities. Note: Hours-of-Service rules are not mutually exclusive. The rules will change operations since much more of the industry will operate under an exemption, there will be fewer 30-minute rest breaks and ELDs, and driver time shifts to later in the shift. Carriers will need to stay alert to focus on mitigating this potential hazard.

Want to stay ahead of rules and regulations using an ELD for better HOS monitoring and recording keeping? Axele TMS integrates with ELDs, allowing carriers to track truck drivers’ Hours-of-Service requirements better. When planning loads, dispatchers can determine which driver can take a particular load based on his HOS, ensuring compliance and mitigating risk. Contact Axele today for more information.

Want to know more about how the new Hours-of-Service rules flexibility can help you optimize your operations? Watch our free, on-demand webinar “Optimizing Your Operation Using New Hours of Service Flexibility.”

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