Upcoming Potential Changes to HOS Rules

May 20, 2019 Karli Langner

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) opened up the eyes of government regulations, companies and drivers by tracking what truck drivers were really doing to get their job done. The ELDs shed light on the fact that the current hours of service (HOS) regulations were too restrictive and didn’t give truck drivers the flexibility they needed.

It has taken a while, but the HOS Rules are under revision to make them more flexible. The US DOT plans to unveil new potential changes to the rules in early June of this year. A public comment period will be open until July 26.

FMCSA is considering making changes to:

  • The short-haul HOS limit - The 16-hour short-haul exception allows qualifying drivers to extend the 14-hour driving window to 16 hours once every seven consecutive days.
  • The HOS exception for adverse driving conditions – It allows drivers to extend the maximum driving limit by two hours when certain conditions are met, such as when the adverse driving conditions could not have been known before the driver started driving.
  • The 30-minute rest break provision - According to the 30-minute break rule, drivers can’t log driving time if eight hours have passed since the last off-duty period of 30 consecutive minutes. Drivers can perform non-driving tasks after eight hours without taking a break, but they cannot drive.
  • The sleeper berth rule to allow drivers to split their required time in the sleeper berth - To use the split sleeper berth rule, truckers must spend at least one of the two required rest periods in their sleeper berth. The required rest period in the sleeper berth must be at least 8 consecutive hours (but less than 10 consecutive hours).

The Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) petitioned FMCSA to amend the HOS rules to allow drivers to take a rest break once per 14-hour duty period for up to three consecutive hours. OOIDA also requested FMCSA to eliminate the 30-minute rest break requirement. Other organizations have asked FMCSA to revise the prohibition against driving after the 14th hour of the beginning of the work shift, allowing drivers to use multiple off-duty periods of 3 hours of longer in lieu of having 10 consecutive hours off-duty, and eliminate the 30-minute rest break requirement.

New Training Programs

FMCSA has new rules about training programs that go into effect on February 7, 2020. The new rules focus on new training programs for drivers wanting to obtain a commercial driver license (CDL). On Ramp Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) will be fully operational in 2020 for state, public, and private CDL schools. Schools must record and report hours spent behind the wheel to the DOT. Instructors must have a minimum of 2 years of driving experience, an excellent motor vehicle record, and a medical certification. Teachers will cover 31 theory course topics combined with 19 behind-the-wheel skills.

Stay tuned to find out how the Hours of Service regulations are modified.

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