FMCSA Announces Revised Hours of Service Final Rule

The news the trucking industry has been waiting for was finally announced on May 14, 2020. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently published its revised Hours of Service Final Rule. The announcement was a timely breath of fresh air during the negativity and uncertainty around the covid-19 pandemic. 

“America’s truckers are doing a heroic job keeping our supply chains open during this unprecedented time and these rules will provide them greater flexibility to keep America moving,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

The FMCSA has made changes to the HOS regulations after gathering input from the general public, industry experts, law enforcement officers, safety groups, and truckers. These updates in the regulation promise to increase flexibility for U.S. truckers while maintaining highway and driver safety, the first and foremost reason for HOS rules in the first place. This final rule states it will result in increased flexibility for drivers and a quantified reduction in costs for motor carriers.

The Final HOS Rule highlights four key changes to existing Hours of Service requirements.

  • The Agency will increase safety and flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by requiring a break after 8 hours of consecutive driving and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty status.
  • The Agency will modify the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: an 8/2 split, or a 7/3 split—with neither period counting against the driver’s 14‑hour driving window.
  • The Agency will modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.
  • The Agency will 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.

“We applaud the new flexibility and will have these changes for all My20 users when the rules become effective,” said Founder and CEO of Konexial, Ken Evans. “We further applaud not pausing the 14hr clock and the problems that would have caused with drivers being pressured to work longer for no increase in pay.”

The new Hours of Service rules will be implemented 120 days after the Final Rule is published in the Federal Register which is expected to publish the week of May 18, 2020. Based on the expected publish date, the HOS rules will be implemented in September 2020. 

“The Department of Transportation and the Trump Administration listened directly to the concerns of truckers seeking rules that are safer and have more flexibility—and we have acted. These updated hours of service rules are based on the thousands of comments we received from the American people. These reforms will improve safety on America’s roadways and strengthen the nation’s motor carrier industry,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen.

My20-FMCA Changes to HOS