FMCSA published the Final Rule on June 1, 2020 that makes changes to four key areas of the HOS provisions. We have captured the most common questions asked by carriers and drivers along with answers from FMCSA’s Joe DeLorenzo, Acting Associate Administrator.
1. When we say that the HOS changes take effect on September 29, 2020, is that midnight for the driver in their terminal time zone or midnight in a set time zone?
The new rules take effect on September 29, 2020 at midnight on Eastern Standard Time.
This means that for drivers in Pacific Time, the rules go into effect on September 28, 2020 at 9pm; for drivers in Mountain Time, it’ll be on September 28, 2020 at 10pm; and for drivers in Central Time, it’ll be on September 28, 2020 at 11pm
2. Can carriers and drivers operate under the new rules before September 29, 2020?
No. Drivers who operate under the new provisions prior to midnight ET on September 29, 2020 will be subject to violations with existing HOS regulations.
3. There were a few petitions for reconsideration filed with FMCSA, are those likely to impact the September 29, 2020 compliance date?
FMCSA are fully anticipating that the rule will go into effect on September 29, 2020. The petitions for reconsiderations are being reviewed but are unlikely to impact the implementation of the rules.
4. What if you are operating under intra-state HOS rules? Does the HOS Final Rule change and impact the intra-state HOS rules?
The HOS Final Rule changes the inter-state HOS rules and impacts the drivers operating in inter-state commerce. For those drivers operating in intra-state commerce that are subject to intra-state HOS rules, they must look to individual states to adopt the HOS rule changes for the intra-state rules. Some states follow administrative and/or legislative rule-making processes to adopt changes, such as California.
So if you are an intra-state driver, then you must check with the individual states to see if the intra-state rules have been changed and when those changes will take effect. Intra-state rule changes may not be at the same time as FMCSA’s implementation date for the inter-state HOS rule changes.
Short Haul Exemption
5. Do short haul drivers have to take a 30-minute rest break?
No. Short haul drivers are not required to take a 30-minute rest break as long as they continue to satisfy the requirements of the short haul exemption.
6. What is the drive limit for short haul property-carrying drivers?
Short haul property-carrying drivers, like interstate drivers, have a total of 11 hours of drive time within their shift before they must take a 10 consecutive hours off-duty.
7. Can a short haul driver apply the adverse driving conditions exception?
If the driver exceeds the 14-hour shift, then the driver no longer would qualify for the short haul exemption and would require RODS for that day. Once the driver keeps RODS, the driver may apply and operate under the adverse driving conditions and work up to 16-hours and drive for up to 13 hours.
8. How do you define start and end shift locations? Is it from a specific address to that same address?
The same starting and end location should typically be the same specific address. There are some exceptions, but the idea is that the driver must come back to the same area – that may depend on the circumstances of operations.
Adverse Driving Conditions
9. Would this new definition also cover road closures or traffic due to social unrest or protests or riots blocking roads?
This may qualify. The question to ask is was this something that came up that could not be anticipated at the end of the qualifying break or before starting the trip?’ If yes, then this could qualify as adverse driving conditions.
10. Does the adverse driving condition allow a driver to exceed the 60/7 or 70/8 limit?
It does not. The adverse driving conditions is an exception to the 11-hour driving and 14-hour shift limits only.
11. Can drivers continue driving for the duration of the exception if the adverse condition clears (i.e. get past an accident)?
Yes. The exception is intended to allow drivers to get up to 2- hours to continue on after facing the adverse driving conditions faced during the day.
12. Can you use adverse driving conditions exception if a driver is held up at a shipper or receiver?
No. This is not an adverse driving condition. In this case, you may use the split sleeper berth provision to pause the 14-hour shift.
Split Sleeper Berth
13. Can you apply adverse driving conditions exception if you’re using the split sleeper berth provision?
Yes. A driver facing the adverse driving conditions will have up to 13-hour driving and 16-hour shift time on either side of a qualifying split sleeper berth rest.
14. What happens if you pair a 3-hour sleeper berth with a 10-hour sleeper berth rest? Are both periods not counted against the 14-hour shift?
This would meet the requirements of the split sleeper berth provision: there is one period of 2-hours or more, paired with another period of 7-hours or more in the sleeper berth, which adds up to 10-hours. As a result, both periods would not count against the 14-hour shift. FMCSA has deliberately not placed a cap on the two periods, as long as the two periods add to 10 or more hours.
15. What if the driver takes a 5-hour off duty to pair with 7-hour sleeper berth? Does it extend the 14-hour by 5-hours or just 3-hours?
If the driver pairs the 5-hour off-duty with a 7-hour sleeper berth, then the entire 5-hours can be excluded from the 14-hour shift. The rule states that qualifying periods are excluded from the 14-hour shift.
30-minute Rest Break
16. Can a driver use personal conveyance (PC) or yard move (YM) for the 30-minute rest break?
Yes. PC is technically off-duty time and YM is technically on-duty, not driving time. A driver can use these statuses and it would count towards the 30-minute rest break.
17. Can the 30-minute break be made up of multiple duty statuses? For example, 15-minutes of on-duty followed by 15-minutes of off-duty?
Yes. As long as the break is 30 consecutive minutes that are not in a driving status, that would qualify as a 30-minute break. That example of 15-minute on-duty followed by 15-minute off-duty would definitely qualify.
18. With the new rules, if a driver does a 4-hour drive and then a 15-minute on-duty work, does that 15-minutes count towards the 8-hours before 30-minute rest break is due?
No. The 15-minute on-duty work would not count towards the 8-hours. In that example, the driver would still have 4 hours left of driving time before a 30-minute rest is required.
19. If you qualify for a 30-minute rest break exemption such as livestock hauler or driving with special oversize/overweight permit, are you still exempt from taking the 30-minute break?
There are exemptions to the 30-minute rest break for certain industries. Those exemptions would remain in effect for the applicable carriers and drivers. For example, all specialized drivers transporting oversized/overweight loads requiring permits issued by the state authority are exempt from the 30-minute rest break; and per 395.1(v) the livestock haulers are not required to take a 30-minute break while livestock are on the vehicle.
Want more information on the upcoming HOS changes? Watch our webinar featuring FMCSA’s Joe DeLorenzo for more answers.
Director, Regulatory Compliance - North America
Soona Lee is responsible for understanding regulatory context and policies and technical requirements and translating them for development of the company's suite of compliance products.