Turn Signals – Special Alert 20

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released today the long-awaited proposed changes to the interstate hours-of-service regulations. These amendments would also apply to intrastate trucks in states that adopt all federal logging rules. Here are the proposed changes:

  • A 30-minute break would not be required until a driver accumulates 8 hours of driving since his last non-driving period of 30 minutes or more (either an on-duty or off-duty period). Currently the break is required within 8 hours of coming on-duty from an off-duty period of 30 minutes or more. Importantly, the new 30 minute break from driving does not have to be off-duty. A 30-minute on-duty break is OK.
  • A driver can take an off-duty break between 30 minutes up to 3 hours, once during any workday, and if the driver chooses to do so, stop the 14-hour clock for the length of the break. If the driver uses this option to stop the 14-hour clock, he cannot use the split sleeper-berth technique to obtain his upcoming 10-hour rest.
  • The split sleeper-berth rest can be one period of at least 7 hours and another period of at least 2 hours that, when added together, equal 10 hours or more of rest. The proposed revision also allows the shorter period to happen first and it can still be either an off-duty or sleeper-berth break. Both sleeper-berth breaks stop the current day’s 14-hour clock and do not start the next day’s 14-hour clock. The allowable time for a team driver to be off-duty while in the passenger seat is also being increased from 2 to 3 hours.
  • Short-haul drivers who are exempt from preparing logs will have (1) their driving radius expanded from 100 to 150 air-miles (172.6 “regular” miles), and (2) their allowable on-duty time increased from 12 to 14 hours.
  • The adverse driving conditions provision because of weather, road conditions, or traffic will allow truck drivers to drive up to 13 hours in a 16-hour workday. This exception applies only when the adverse situation was not “apparent on the basis of information known to the person dispatching the run at the time it was begun.”

The timetable: As soon as this Notice of Final Rulemaking is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 45-days to comment and provide information on various questions posed by the agency in its decision. FMCSA can issue the final decision whenever it chooses and it can modify the above changes. It will also be likely that various highway safety groups will seek judicial stays to delay and stop the implementation of the new regulations.

Here’s the kicker:

FMCSA is asking ELD manufacturers if 6 or 12 months is needed to reprogram their ELD software. How the manufacturers respond will determine when FMCSA sets the date for motor carriers to begin enjoying the more flexible logging rules. Good luck and be safe!

Published by Nicholas Wingerter and TRUCK SAFETY
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