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hours-of-service rules

What are the New Hours-of-Service Rules?

Many trucking organizations have long argued that hours-of-service (HOS) rules are not sensible in today’s trucking environment. They are concerned that overly complicated HOS rules provide virtually no driver flexibility, so drivers may be behind the wheel while tired, sick, or during busy travel times or hazardous weather or road conditions.

After extensive deliberation, effective September 29, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) updated the nation’s hours-of-service (HOS) rules in four main areas to:

  • Expand the short-haul exception from 100 to 150 air-miles
  • Extend permitted work shift from 12 to 14 hours
  • Increase the driving window during adverse driving conditions by up to two hours
  • Have drivers take a 30-minute break after eight hours of driving time (vs. on-duty time)

FMCSA designed the new HOS rules to provide greater flexibility for drivers without lowering safety standards. Here’s how they work:

  • As the FMCSA filing notes, the basic hours-of-service framework (not including recordkeeping requirements) is an 11-hour limit on driving time. This period follows ten consecutive hours off-duty and includes a prohibition on driving after an individual has worked 14-hours of on-duty time during a work shift. The framework stops drivers from driving after they have accumulated either 60 hours of on-duty time in 7 days or 70 hours of on-duty time in 8 days. But it permits them to restart their 60- or 70-hour “clock” by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.
  • The adverse driving conditions provision—which was formerly based on only the dispatcher’s knowledge of driving conditions but can now also factor in driver’s knowledge–extends the driving window two hours (for example, if/when the driver encounters an unexpected spill or accident that closes down a bridge). Drivers will be required to annotate and include details about the adverse driving conditions in their log or ELD. 
  • Modifications to the 30-minute break provision now require drivers to take a break after eight hours of driving time (instead of on-duty time). (The old rule required the 30-minute break to be taken while off-duty or in the sleeper berth.) Drivers can now count their 30-minute breaks while refueling, eating, refueling, or even waiting at the shipper’s loading dock.
  • The new sleeper-berth provision means drivers can split their required 10 hours off. The shorter off-duty period must be at least two hours long, and the driver must spend these two hours outside his/her berth. The more extended off-duty period must include at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth. 

Take a deep dive into how new HOS rules impact profitability and operational efficiency. Contact Axele to learn more about how to address HOS regulations. Be sure to sign up for our free webinar on February 17, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. ET, “Optimizing Your Operation Using New Hours of Service Flexibility,” to learn how both carriers and drivers can use new HOS flexibility for improved operational efficiency.

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