The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) administers the hours of service (HOS) rules that specify the permitted operating hours of commercial drivers. In 2018, FMCSA authored an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to receive public comment on portions of the HOS rules to alleviate unnecessary burdens placed on drivers while maintaining safety on national highways and roads. Once all the comments were considered, the Agency published details proposed rule in August 2019.
On May 14, 2020 the FMCSA published a final rule updating the HOS by revising existing regulations for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.
The key revisions are as follows:
- The Agency will increase flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by requiring a break after 8 hours of consecutive driving and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty status.
- The Agency will modify the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: an 8/2 split, or a 7/3 split—with neither period counting against the driver’s 14 hour driving window.
- The Agency will modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.
- The Agency will change the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.
The decision to increase the air-mile radius to 150 miles is particularly important for agricultural products that are ineligible for the agricultural exemption to the hours-of-service rules, such as processed products. This will be particularly helpful in Arizona in the summer when the temperatures regularly exceed 100 degrees. If haulers have the ability to extend their drive time then agriculture producers and businesses that depend on these products will only continue to benefit financially and operationally.
The new hours of service rule will have an implementation date of 120 days after publication in the Federal Register.