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Federal Regulators Consider Changes to Allow for Flexibility with Hours of Service

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) expects to publish a new proposed rule in the Federal Register on August 19, 2019 that would allow for increased flexibility for drivers that are caught in delays caused by unexpected traffic or at loading docks. The publication of the proposed rule in the register starts a 45-day public comment period.

Currently, drivers of commercial motor vehicles are permitted to drive up to 11 hours during a 14-hour workday. The 14-hour limit currently begins when the driver comes on duty and off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period. The restrictions are intended to promote safety by preventing fatigued drivers from operating commercial trucks. After the 11-hour driving limit or 14-hour work period has been used, 10 consecutive hours off duty are required.

The new proposed rule would allow for the 10-hour rest period to be split into 2 separate breaks instead of taking it all at once. One break period would have to be at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth while the other break would have to be at least 2 consecutive hours, either off duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither break would count toward the 14-hour on-duty restriction. This would permit drivers that are delayed by traffic, severe weather, or other adverse conditions or delays to use an off-duty break of at least 2 hours to rest and then return to driving. The lack of flexibility that results from the current rules does not allow a driver to take a shorter break to, for example, wait out rush hour traffic instead of staying on the road.

For more information about this and other proposed changes, please see the following:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/regulations/hours-service/474821/nprmfile08-08-2019-131534.pdf

https://www.truckinginfo.com/338202/proposed-hours-of-service-changes-designed-to-add-flexibility

https://www.wsj.com/articles/federal-regulators-propose-changes-to-trucker-work-hour-rules-11565818391?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=1&mod=djemlogistics_h

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