The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced changes to the hours of service (HOS) rules earlier this summer, which will go into effect on September 29, 2020. FMCSA made the changes to grant drivers more flexibility without sacrificing safety. With the end of September rapidly approaching, fleets need to make sure they understand the following changes to remain compliant:
- Short-haul exception. The previous ruling limited short-haul drivers to a 100 air-mile radius and a maximum workday of 12 hours. The update extends the air-mile radius to 150 miles and increases the maximum workday to 14 hours.
- Adverse driving conditions exception. Existing regulations allowed drivers two additional hours to their driving limits should they encounter adverse driving conditions. The new rule allows drivers to extend both their driving limit and their on-duty limit by two hours. This applies to both property and passenger carriers. The update also considers the driver’s role as certain adverse conditions aren’t known or apparent when scheduling deliveries. If drivers encounter adverse conditions that they or the motor carrier couldn’t reasonably know about prior to beginning their workday, they qualify for the adverse driving conditions exception.
- 30-minute break requirement. Prior to the update, this safety regulation required drivers to take a 30-minute break after eight consecutive hours of driving. To satisfy the break requirement, drivers either had to enter off-duty status or take the break in a sleeper berth. The revised ruling expands upon those options, allowing drivers to take the break while on-duty but not driving. It also allows drivers to use any combination of the previous break options so long as the 30 minutes are consecutive (e.g. 15 minutes on-duty status while not driving followed by 15 minutes in a sleeper berth).
- Sleeper berth provision. The amended sleeper birth provision allows drivers to split their 10-hour off-duty period in a variety of ways (e.g. 7.5/2.5 hours, 8/2 hours, etc.). However, one of the off-duty periods must be at least two hours long, the other must have a minimum of 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, and both periods must add up to a total of 10 hours. When used together, neither of the off-duty periods count against the 14-hour maximum driving window.
HOS Updates and Electronic Logging Devices
While the current regulations for electronic logging devices (ELDs) do not require the devices to flag HOS violations, some ELD manufacturers offer this service as an add-on feature. Carriers and drivers that use devices with this option will need to contact their ELD manufacturer to ensure their devices update to reflect the new rules. Otherwise, the device will inaccurately identify HOS violations and cause headaches for fleets.
The experts at Interstate Motor Carriers understand the challenges involved with keeping track of shifting safety regulations while ensuring drivers remain compliant and safe. Contact us to learn about improving your fleet’s safety, reducing risk, and more.