In May, Congress elected to make changes to the existing hours of service rules in order to give truckers more flexibility in their work that will go into effect on September 29, 2020. There are four key changes that will go into effect for the new HOS rules:
- The 30-minute break required at least every 8 hours can now be satisfied by on-duty/not driving, in addition to off-duty.
- The sleeper berth exception is modified to allow a driver to meet the 10-hour minimum off-duty requirement by spending at least 7, rather than at least 8 hours of that period in the berth and a minimum off-duty period of at least 2 hours spent inside or outside the berth, provided the two periods total at least 10 hours, and that neither qualify period counts against the 14-hour driving window.
- Up to two extra hours of driving window during adverse driving conditions (so potentially a max 16-hour workday instead of 14)
- Short hauls for commercial drivers can now run a max of 14 hours a day on duty and extends their distance limit to 150 air miles under a new exception.
Per usual, there are groups applauding and petitioning against the changes. ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said this "rule is the result of a two-year, data-driven process and it will result in needed flexibility for America's professional truck drivers while maintaining the safety of our roads." On the other side, a coalition featuring Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, Parents Against Tired Truckers, the Truck Safety Coalition, and the Teamsters petitioned for the new rules to be delayed almost immediately after the announcement of the changes in May, on the grounds that it could lead to more accidents with drivers on the road longer. The DOT has maintained that the changes are intended to make life easier for truckers to do their job without rushing to stay in compliance.
We do not forecast any delays and believe the regulations will indeed go into effect as scheduled in September. In the meantime, be sure to review these changes with your drivers so that they are aware of them, and incorporate the necessary changes to your training so that new drivers get the up-to-date regulations.
Our Federal Regulations course will have the updated Hours of Service regulations available for your drivers which you can access for free through October 31st to help you adjust to the new changes.