In the middle of May, the Federal Motor Carrier Association published a final rule for changes to the Hours of Service Regulations. These changes promise to offer more flexibility for drivers. The final rule includes 4 changes that many drivers and driver-focused associations campaigned for. So, what are the changes, and when can we expect to see them on the road? Read on for all you need to know.
Change 1 – 30 Minute Rest Break Rule
The final rule allows more flexibility with regards to the 30 minute rest break rule by now requiring a break after 8 hours of consecutive driving, and allowed the conditions of the break to be satisfied by a driver using the status of “on-duty, not driving” instead of requiring the “off-duty” status.
Change 2 – Split Sleeper Berth
The regulatory changes will also modify the split sleeper berth exception to allow drivers to divide their required hours off duty into 2 periods. They can elect an 8/2 split, or a 7/3 split. So, now a driver is able to take at least 8 consecutive hours int eh sleeper berth, plus 2 separate consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or a combination of the two OR take at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus 3 separate consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or a combination of the two. Neither selection will count against the drivers 14-hour driving window.
Change 3 – Adverse Driving Conditions Exception
The adverse driving conditions exception maximum window has been extended by 2 hours under the final rule changes. The FMCSA note that adverse driving conditions are things that you did not know about when you started driving, such as snow, fog or a shut-down of traffic due to a crash. They don’t include situations such as congested traffic during typical rush hour periods, because these can be expected and are well-known. So, for adverse driving conditions, you will now be able to drive up to 4 extra hours to complete what could have been driving in normal conditions. But, note that even though you may drive an extra 4 hours under this exception, the FMCSA asserts that the rule does not increase driving time and will continue to prevent truckers from driving for more than eight consecutive hours without at least a 30-minute break.
Change 4 – Short haul Exceptions
The fourth and final change to the HOS rule involves changing the short haul exception that is available to certain drivers by increasing the driver’s maximum on-duty period from 12 hours to 14 hours. The change to the rule also extends the distance limit for short haul drivers from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.
The final rule become effective 120 days after it is published in the Federal Register. with that in mind, we can expect the rule to be effective on the road sometime in September.
Check out the full final rule below, and for more information, visit the FMCSA Hours of Service site.