On August 14, 2019, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the proposal to change five different aspects of the HOS regulations in the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM). The proposed rule is published in the Federal Register and can be viewed here.

 

FMCSA’s Proposed HOS Amendments made easy!

Here’s a brief rundown of the current HOS rules, the proposed changes in this HOS NPRM and the impacts for carriers and drivers.

Short Haul Operations

Current Rules

Short haul drivers must:

  • Stay within 100 air mile radius of reporting location
  • Not be on-duty more than 12 hours
  • Not drive more than 11 hours
  • Start and end at the same location

Short haul drivers do not have to prepare RODS, use ELD, maintain supporting docs or take a 30-min break. Only need to keep timecard records for 6 months.

Proposed changes

Change 100 air mile radius to 150 air mile radius of reporting location.

Increase the maximum on-duty hours from 12 to 14 hours.

Impact / Benefits

More drivers and more trips would be eligible for the short haul exception.

Those drivers won’t need to prepare daily RODS, nor need ELDs.

Adverse Conditions Exception

Current Rules

In adverse driving conditions the driver gets 2 extra hours in the 11-hour driving limit but must be done within 14-hour driving window.

Proposed changes

Increase the 14-hour driving by 2 hours as well to make it 16-hour driving window.

Impact / Benefits

Allow drivers time to wait out the adverse condition or drive slowly and safely through it without HOS violations.

30-minute Break

Current Rules

Drivers must take at least a 30-min break in off-duty status after 8 hours of being on-duty including driving.

Proposed changes

Change so that the 30-min break can be satisfied by on-duty, not driving time as well as off-duty status.

A 30-min break is due after 8 hours of driving time instead of on-duty time.

Impact / Benefits

Now the driver is able o use on-duty time such as loading/unloading or fueling time to count towards the 30-min break.

Suppose a driver started the day with 2 hours on-duty and then started driving. The driver will not need to take a break until later in the day.

Split Sleeper Berth

Current Rules

Currently the driver can split the 10-hour rest break into two periods of 8 hours or more in sleeper-berth with another off-duty period of 2 hours or more.

The off-duty period of 2 hours or more counts towards the 14-hour window.

Proposed changes

Allow drivers to split the 10 hours as 8 hours in sleeper berth and 2 hours in off duty; or 7 hours in sleeper and 3 hours in off duty.

Now the 2 or more hours of off-duty would also be excluded and not count towards the 14-hour window.

To calculate, the driving time in the period immediately before and after each rest period, when added together, must not exceed 11 hours of driving time and must not violate the 14-hour window.

Impact / Benefits

Gives options for the driver to split the rest in response to the variables he faces in the day.

Incentivizes the driver to take an off-duty rest period of 2 or more hours during the day so they can be more productive without cutting into the 14-hour window.

Split Duty Provision

Current Rules

Driver must not drive past 14 hours of coming on-duty after a 10hour rest.

The 14-hour window is consecutive hours and does not pause for any periods of off-duty except for the 8 hours or more in sleeper berth.

Proposed changes

Allow drivers to pause the 14-hour window by a single off-duty rest of up to 3 hours.

Although the pause in the 14 hours can mean a longer shift or duty period, the driver is still limited to driving a total of 11 hours. The 11-hour driving limit does not change.

Impact / Benefits

Significantly more flexibility than the current rules by allowing drivers to take an off-duty rest without fear of exhausting their available hours on the 14-hour clock.

Incentivizes the driver to voluntarily take longer rest breaks as needed.

 

Add your voice to EROAD comments to the FMCSA proposed HOS Amendments NPRM

At EROAD, we want to help our customers and the industry to get their voices heard on key issues and topics that matter most. HOS rules affect all of us but in different ways. We’ll help collate the feedback in a useful way, do the leg-work of putting some analysis, and then share those findings with the industry and the Agency. Many voices can speak volumes, and we believe our job is to amplify it!

Please take a moment to fill out our HOS Amendments NPRM Survey by October 14th.

You can choose to remain anonymous. By filling it out, we will ensure that you receive a copy of the survey results and our submission to FMCSA.

 

What’s next in the FMCSA Proposed HOS Amendments Process?

The most important thing to note is that FMCSA will be seeking feedback on the proposal. All the comments submitted to the Agency will be considered and it can help to influence the Final Rule. After the comment period closes on October 21, 2019, FMCSA will review and consider the comments and make the final determination.

Our best (and optimistic) guess would be that the Final Rule is likely to be ready by the middle of 2020. Although there’s good momentum around this, given the significance of these changes for the industry, there will need to be careful consideration on all the proposed areas.

FMCSA has already signaled that from the Final Rule, they are considering a 6- to 12- month implementation period for the changed rules to take effect. FMCSA has already mentioned that it could take some time and approximately $20,000 to update the eRODS application to accommodate the changes. Similarly, ELD providers will need to be ready to update their solutions to reflect the changes as well – some are easy, but some are more complex. Plus, when you add the time needed to train drivers and enforcement, all that is likely to take us out until around 2021 for all these changes to be in place.

Clearly, there’s lots still to come. Stay tuned!

Soona Lee

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.

More articles by Soona | About her 

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