4 Upcoming Changes to the HOS Final Rule

Posted on October 23, 2020 · Posted in TMTA Flash

Note: The following information provides guidance on the hours service rules that are applicable through September 28, 2020. Starting on September 29, 2020 the revised provisions of the HOS final rule, published on June 1, 2020, will take effect.
The new, final rule for driver HOS addresses four key areas in which industry advocates requested changes.

1. 30-Minute Rest Breaks
Current Rule: May drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes.
Revised Rule: Now, instead of being required to go to off-duty status for the 30-minute break, drivers will be able to use an on-duty/not driving period to satisfy the requirement.
That means if a driver has been on-duty for 8 hours and is getting unloaded at a facility, they can count that on-duty/not driving time as their 30-minute break, and continue driving once loaded (up to the 11 hour driving limit).

2. Sleeper Berth Provision
Current Rule: Drivers using the sleeper berth provision must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.
Revised Rule: Now, drivers have two options they can use when splitting their required 10 hours off-duty.
Option 1: 8 hours in the sleeper berth, 2 hours off-duty (in the sleeper berth or otherwise).
Option 2: 7 hours in the sleeper berth, 3 hours off-duty (in the sleeper berth or otherwise).
This helps to give drivers more flexibility, and it is especially beneficial for driver teams, giving the team more options as they rotate from behind the wheel to the sleeper berth.

3. Adverse Driving Conditions
Current Rule: A driver who encounters adverse driving conditions (snow, sleet, etc.) and cannot safely complete the run within their allotted maximum hours may drive for up to two additional hours beyond the maximum time allowed to complete that run or to reach a safe place.
Revised Rule: The exception has been extended by two hours. Drivers will only need to utilize this in rare circumstances, as they don’t want to be operating their truck in adverse conditions any longer than is necessary.

4. Short-Haul Exemption (Air Mile)
Current Rule: 100 air mile radius drivers are exempt from keeping a record of duty status and from using an ELD. The maximum amount of time that a 100 air mile radius driver can be on-duty is 12 hours.
Revised Rule: Now, the 100 air mile exemption will be expanded to 150 air miles, and the maximum amount of time an exempt driver can be on-duty will be 14 hours.
For reference, an air mile is the same as a nautical mile (slightly longer than a “statute” mile).
The exemption is designed to give certain commercial drivers — that operate in local, short hauls with a consistent base of operations (like a package delivery driver) — more flexibility. The update just expands the scope of that flexibility.

Which FMCSA Hours of Service Regulations Are Staying the Same?
Beyond these four changes, everything else will remain the same.
For more information on the full HOS regulations, the FMCSA has published several resources, including a summary, Q&A guidance, and of course, the full rule is available to the public on the federal register.