The U.S. DOT announced today a series of newly proposed changes to the 2013 hours-of-service final ruling. These changes will give drivers more flexibility and are a result of feedback from industry organizations and individuals who have been affected by the 2017 electronic logging device (ELD) mandate.
Choptank Transport’s President and CEO, Geoff Turner, agrees the proposed changes to FMCSA’s hours-of-service will be helpful to the industry. “Our carriers are extremely hard-working and dedicated to safety. Their goal is like everyone else's; to use the highway safely and get home to see their families. Feedback and data from professional drivers has helped craft this much-needed regulatory change.”
One of the most significant changes in the new proposed ruling would allow the driver to put "on hold" the 14-hour on-duty time for anywhere between 30-minutes and three hours to avoid heavy traffic, allow for detention times, and add an extra buffer for unforeseen situations. The 11-hour drive time rule will remain the same. The current rule provides an allowed 14-hour on-duty time with a consecutive 10-hour off-duty requirement.
Another notable change is the ability to use the 30-minute break rule, as on-duty: not driving status, instead of as off-duty time.
If passed, the adjustments to the current HOS rules will allow carriers and drivers to continue to do their jobs safely but will offer more options that could make their lives on the road less stressful and more productive.
Below are all the changes proposed, and even if they all get approval from FMCSA, it will likely take a year or two before they are finalized and put into the Federal Register as law.
- Increase safety and flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by tying the break requirement to eight hours of driving time without interruption of at least 30 minutes, and by allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty.
- Modify the sleeper berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: One period of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than two consecutive hours, either off duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither period would count against the driver’s 14-hour driving window.
- Allow one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than three hours, that would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour driving window, provided the driver takes ten consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.
- Modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.
- Change 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.
Choptank Transport’s Vice President of Business Development, Dave Regulski, is glad to see these refinements under consideration as well. “When the ELD mandate went into effect, some carriers felt like there were too many restrictions being imposed on them, but they adapted. Now that they are proposing refinements that will make things easier, those on the road seemed pretty pleased about it, ” said Regulski.
What are your thoughts regarding the proposed changes to FMCSA’s hours-of-service ruling?Do you think the changes will be valuable to carriers and shippers to improve efficiency and driver productivity?