Updated Hours of Service Rules for Truckers

Date: August 4, 2020

Nancy Rigby, BITCO Home Office Technical Specialist, Risk Control

New rules safeguard drivers while enhancing flexibility

The U.S Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently updated several Hours of Service (HOS) rules to accommodate drivers’ safety and flexibility. HOS rules have been some of the most controversial sets of regulations governing the length of the typical driver's workday and how it can be spent.

The final rules were published on June 1, requiring motor carriers to comply with the HOS regulations starting September 29 – not before then.

To help you and your drivers understand the new changes to the regulations, we’ve broken them down by their four categories.

Break flexibility

The first change helps increase safety by requiring a break after eight hours of consecutive driving. Now that 30-minute break can be satisfied by a driver using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty status. This will allow an on-duty/not driving period to qualify as the required break.

Modified off-duty time

A modification to the sleeper-berth exception now allows drivers to split the required 10 hours of off-duty time into an 8/2 split or a 7/3 split, with neither period counting against the driver’s 14-hour driving window.

The driver will be able to meet the 10-hour minimum off-duty requirement by spending at least seven hours, rather than at least eight hours of that period, in the berth and a minimum off-duty period of at least two hours spent inside or outside of the berth as long as the two periods total at least 10 hours.

Adverse driving conditions

Driving in adverse weather conditions such as snow, sleet, fog, ice-covered roads or other unusual road conditions will permit an additional two hours beyond the maximum time allowed.

This provides drivers with the flexibility to reach a safe place to stop using those two additional hours. It also helps the driver not feel rushed to complete their run within their allotted time while traveling through adverse conditions.

Short-haul hours

FMCSA also changed the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles. This will increase the number of drivers able to take advantage of the short-haul exception.

Reach out to learn more

To learn more about how these recent changes to FMCSA's HOS rules may impact your operations, use our Agency Locator service at BITCO.com to find a specialist agent near you.

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For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.

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