New FMCSA Regulations: Hours Of Service Changes

FMCSA Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) under the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) is committed to ensuring maximum safety for public road users while improving the quality of life and service. FMCSA on June 1, 2020, proposed four updated regulations for hours of service for Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers to provide more flexibility and productivity while maintaining their safety. These revised hours of service are to be implemented starting from 29, September 2020 and motor carriers are expected to comply.


Who Are To Comply With The New Hours Of Service (Hos) Regulations?

kThe New FMCSA Regulations require that most CMV drivers must comply. A commercial motor vehicle, CMV is any vehicle that fits into the following descriptions and is used for interstate commercial purposes;

-If such vehicle (including any load) weighs at least 10,001 pounds (4,536kg)

– If it has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, in the case of a double vehicle that is 10,001 pounds (4,536kg) and above

– If including the driver it is designed and used to transport nine passengers or more.

– It is used for hauling regulated contents like hazardous materials in a quantity that requires placards.

What Are The Changes In The New FMCSA Hours Of Service  Regulations?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revised hours of service regulations for commercial truck drivers apply to the length of time drivers are allowed to by limiting the amount of time they spend driving and the total number of hours they can drive before they are prohibited from drinking a commercial motor vehicle. Commercial truck drivers are required to follow these time limits daily. The four key changes to the time limits are as follows;

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-Short-haul exception – Short-haul operations off duty time limits will expand 12 to 14hours and also from 100 air miles to 150 air miles. Air miles are not the same as the statute miles on a roadmap, the measurements for air miles are longer, there are 5,280 feet in a statute mile and 6,076 in an air mile.

– Adverse Driving Conditions Exception; In case a commercial truck driver encounters adverse conditions that may affect their driving speed, where they have no choice but to slow them to ensure safety, they may drive up to additional 2 hours to make up for the normal driving hours without facing such conditions. Normally, the driving hours are 11 hours, so you may drive up to 13 hours consecutively.

Adverse driving conditions focus on unpredictable adverse conditions that a driver’s not aware of before they started operation, it may include thick fog, snow, unprecedented traffic or a roadway shut down due to a crash, etc. Situations that a driver is aware of before starting their run cannot be counted as Adverse driving conditions, such as rush hour traffic. Although, under this exception, drivers are permitted to drive additional two hours they must however not exceed the consecutive 14 hours on-duty driving period, and also, they must comply with the provision of 30 minutes rest break at the minimum.

– Modifying the sleeper-berth exception

If a commercial motor vehicle has a sleeper berth that complies with the safety regulations, the driver may be allowed to use it to get the mandatory off duty time in the following three ways;

  • You are allowed to use your sleeper-berth to get the required part or all of consecutive 10 hours of off duty time. The most important thing to note when you are getting your off duty time is that you must not be on duty for the required 10 hours. Your 11 hours driving time and 14 hours on duty limits would restart afresh when you have completed 10 hours of consecutive or combined sleeper and, or off duty time.
  • You may extend the 14-hour limit with your sleeper berth time. If you spend a minimum period of 8 hours in the sleeper-berth it is not included in your on-duty limit of 14 hours, so you may extend the time to complete your maximum 11 hours of driving time.
  • Also, you may use your sleeper berth to split your 10 hours consecutive off duty period into two. Firstly, you must spend at least 8 hours without interruption in the sleeper berth, this rest period will not be counted as part of the required 14 hours, the second rest period will be at least two consecutive hours long. You may choose to spend these periods in the sleeper berth or when you’re off duty or the two combined. You can choose to take any period first, however upon completion, you will have a new calculation point on the clock to determine your available hours, the calculation point will start from your first rest period.
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-30 minutes break requirements

The 30 minutes break hours of service requirements allows a driver to take up to 30 minutes after a cumulative driving time of 8 hours after your last off duty or sleeper-berth period. It means for a driver, if they start driving as soon as they come on duty, they could drive for a consecutive 8 hours then take at least half an hour break before continuing the remaining 3 hours driving to make up for the required 11 hours, it could also mean that a driver could drive for 3 hours and take at least half an hour break before continuing with the remaining hours, it could also be 5 hours to 6 hours split but must not exceed a total of 8 hours consecutive driving time.

This 30 minutes rest break could be a mealtime break or off-duty break but does not against the required 14 hours driving window. If this break counts against the driving window that means the off-duty time will typically extend the work time, causing fatigue and extreme stress for drivers if they drive past the required time.

FMCSA does not require all CDL and non-CDL drivers that meet the requirements for time limitations and record-keeping and also operate within 100 air miles of their normal work stations.

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