On May 14, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued the final rule updating the hours-of-service regulations. According to Elaine Chao, U.S. Secretary of Transportation[1], these new rules give professional drivers more options when planning their days. They will be able to reach their destination safely without feeling they have to race against the clock to comply with federal mandates.

Of the proposal unveiled last year, four of the five revisions were adopted in the final rule.

Key revisions

30-minute Break

A 30-minute break is required after eight hours of driving time (instead of on-duty time). The break can be satisfied with a non-driving period of either on duty, off-duty, sleeper berth.

Split-Sleeper Berth

Drivers may split their required 10 hours of off-duty into two periods: one period of at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and another period of at least 2 consecutive hours of either off-duty or in the sleeper berth. Note that neither of these two periods will count against the driver’s 14-hour driving window. For example, it could be an 8/2 split or a 7/3 split.

Adverse Driving Conditions

Allow drivers to extend by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted. The current rule allows two additional hours of driving time, but they must remain within the maximum driving window of 14 hours. The new rule allows the driving window to be extended to 16 hours.

Short-Haul Exemption

For drivers who qualify for this exemption, the on-duty period is extended by 2 hours, from 12 hours to 14 hours. In addition, the operating radius of 100 air miles is extended to 150 miles.

Amendments’ Effective Date

The new hours of service rules are set to go in effect on Sept. 29, 2020. For the full version of the rule, click here.

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[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGH8H89oZ4c&feature=youtu.be

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