As of September 29, 2020, there have been four major updates to the hours-of-service rules for commercial truck drivers. These rules include changing how long-haul truck drivers are required to take breaks, lengthening how far short-haul drivers can travel in one day, unfavorable driving conditions, and the sleeper berth provision. The rules remain focused on highway safety but give more flexibility for drivers.
The four main Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) updates to Hours of Service Rules (HOS) include:
- The expansion of the short-haul exception from 100 air-miles to 150 air-miles this change also extends the permitted work hours from 12 hours to 14 hours. The motor carrier is still required to keep track of the driver’s time in, time out, and total hours per day.
The record must also include how many hours the driver has worked for the previous seven days. The carrier must keep these records for six months. Although records are not required to be kept in the truck, it is recommended in case the driver were to get pulled over and law enforcement requested them.
- An increase in the driving window during unfavorable driving conditions by up to two hours. This updated rule allows the driver to have discretion and has focused on the fact that the driver must make the assessment after their last qualifying break.
Unfavorable driving conditions include snow, ice, fog, sleet, etc. along with unusual road or traffic conditions that were not known or could not have reasonably been known to a driver before the start of the duty day or before starting to drive after a qualifying rest break or sleeper berth period, as well as a motor carrier before they dispatched the driver. Drivers must also make notes that include details about the unfavorable driving conditions in their log or ELD.
- A requirement of a 30-minute break after driving a cumulative eight hours instead of on-duty time, this rule also allows anon-duty/not driving period to qualify as the required break.
- Changing the sleeper berth exception allowing drivers to meet the 10-hour minimum of off-duty requirement by spending 7 of those 10 hours, instead of 8, in the berth, and a minimum off-duty period of no less than 2 hours spent inside or outside of the berth, provided the two periods equal at least 10 hours neither qualifying period counts against the 14-hour driving window.
Keeping up-to-date on the Hours of Services changes is very important. These changes allow you to comply with current regulations . The HOS rules are created to keep drivers safe and have been revised to focus on the input that was given from drivers and carriers. It is your job as a driver to read and understand the new, revised rules, so you can be at your best on the road.