FMCSA: 5 changes to the HOS rule

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) unveiled a proposal on August 14 to revise its hours of service (HOS) regulations for commercial motor vehicle drivers. The FMCSA estimates its proposal would provide $274 million in savings over 10 years for the U.S. economy and American consumers in reduced compliance costs and increased flexibility and efficiencies for motor carriers.

Based on numerous requests from industry stakeholders for more flexible HOS conditions and over 5,200 public comments starting in August 2018, the FMCSA announced the following five proposed revisions to the existing rule:

  1. Require drivers to take a break for at least 30 minutes after eight uninterrupted hours of driving time. A driver may record this time as “On-Duty, Not Driving” or “Sleeper Berth” rather than “Off-Duty” to perform other non-driving, work-related tasks. Currently, the rule requires a break after eight hours since the last “Off-Duty” or “Sleeper Berth” period of at least 30 minutes. The proposal would change this to require a break after eight hours of driving time without at least a 30-minute break.


  1. Allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off-duty into two periods: one of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, and one of at least two consecutive hours either off-duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither period would count against the driver’s 14‑hour driving window.


  1. Pause a driver’s 14-hour driving window with one off-duty break between 30 minutes and three hours, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of their work shift. This would permit a driver to work up to a 17-hour window with a three-hour break during the duty period. However, a driver would still not be able to drive a commercial motor vehicle more than 11 hours during this period.


  1. Extend the maximum window that driving is permitted during adverse driving conditions by two hours. This includes snow, sleet, fog, ice, or unusual road and traffic conditions — none of which were apparent to dispatch.


  1. Modify a short-haul drivers’ maximum on‑duty period from 12 to 14 hours and the distance in which they can operate from 100 to 150 air miles (172.6 land, or statute, miles).  Any driver — CDL holder or not — who operates a commercial motor vehicle within the 150 air mile radius, returns to their reporting location, and is released from duty within 14 hours is exempt from the requirements to complete driver logs, use electronic logging devices to record HOS, or take 30-minute breaks.
    Before implementing this change to the short-haul exemption, the FMCSA is seeking additional information on the impacts of expanding exemption provisions. Specifically, the agency needs comments on:
    • How this change will impact motor carriers’ ability to enforce HOS rules
    • What enforcement difficulties may arise from expanding both time and distance requirements
    • If drivers will travel further in the driving window under the short haul exception
    • If this is different than these loads being hauled by drivers complying with the ELD requirements
    • How, if at all, the elimination of the 30-minute break requirement for drivers that are potentially driving later in their duty period will impact safety
    • What cost savings are expected from not having to comply with the ELD requirements
    • Whether drivers using the short-haul exemption should be allowed to end their shift at a different location than where they started, which segments of the motor carrier industry would be impacted by this change, and if it would have an adverse effect on safety and operational changes


These changes are scheduled to be published to the Federal Register on August 20, after which industry stakeholders will have 45 days to comment. Submit your comments to the federal eRulemaking portal at Docket No. FMCSA-2018-0248.

The FMCSA will consider all comments before issuing a final rule, which is estimated to be finalized before the December 16 ELD deadline, but will likely be after.