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The FMCSA's New Proposed HOS Rules

HOS Rules (1)

This past Wednesday, the FMCSA (the regulatory body that makes rules for the trucking industry) released their hours of service recommendations after months of anticipation.

First, proposals made by the FMCSA are not yet law; they are proposed rules. In order to become the official ruling of the FMCSA, and in order to be regulated by the DOT, they have to go through several more stages. Still, it is still vital that drivers understand the proposed law and how it could affect their bottom line. With that in mind, we've put together a few resources on the changes.

The Proposed New Rule

To understand the entirety of the proposed rule changes, you will need to read the Federal Register Notice. But 127 pages, it certainly isn't for the faint of heart! For a shorter explanation, we have included video of FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez's explanation followed by the FMCSA's summary with our highlights.

  • The Agency proposes to increase safety and flexibility for the 30 minute break rule by tying the break requirement to eight hours of driving time without an interruption for at least 30 minutes, and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on duty, not driving status, rather than off duty. 
  • The Agency proposes to modify the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: one period of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than two consecutive hours, either off duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither period would count against the driver’s 14‑hour driving window.
  • The Agency proposes to allow one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than three hours, that would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour driving window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.
  • The Agency proposes to modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.
  • The Agency proposes a change to 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.

Remember, It Isn't Law Yet...

We have a ways to go before we will know if the Hours of Service Rule will change and how those changes will impact the lives of truck drivers. In the meantime, it is important to make your voice count by contacting the FMCSA with your feedback on this rule.

While the process for feedback at this stage in the rule-making process is a bit more cumbersome than in earlier stages, it just as important because this has the potential to be the LAST stage before this rule becomes enforceable by the DOT. 

There are plenty of special interest groups who are paid to make sure their voices are heard. They will lobby until they are blue in the face to make sure these changes, that are generally regarded as positive, seem unpopular or dangerous. This is the time to make our comments and show our support, or offer further critique.

How to Submit Comments

You may make comments to the FMCSA online, through mail, or by hand delivery. For our purposes we are assuming many of you will want to submit your comments online. 

Include your name, mailing address, email address or telephone number in your comments so that the FMCSA can contact you if they want more information on your suggestions. 

The Federal Register Notice includes the following instructions for those who want to submit comments online.

"To submit your comment online, go to http://www.regulations.gov, put the docket number, FMCSA-2018-0248, in the keyword box, and click "Search." When the new screen appears, click on the "Comment Now!" button and type your comment into the text box on the following screen. Choose whether you are submitting your comment as an individual or on behalf of a third party and then submit."

Further Links

If you want to read (or listen to) more on this subject from a variety of voices around the industry, we have gathered several article links below. 

Key Stakeholders Tout FMCSA’s HOS Proposal

FMCSA Seeks Industry Comment on Several Potential HOS Changes

DOT officially floats HOS changes that would alter 14-hour clock, 30-minute break

FMCSA Rules to Change ELD Laws That Truck Drivers Hate

5 key changes to HOS rule proposed by FMCSA

Podcast from Land Line featuring OOIDA


What if we told you that ELDs aren't the problem? 

If you want to learn more about why we believe that HOS are the real "issue behind the issue" in trucking this year, click below!

What If ELDs Aren't the Problem?