On June 1, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published several revisions to the hours of service (HOS) rules currently governing commercial truck drivers (the “Final Rule”). The text of the Final Rule is available here. The revised FMCSA hours of service rules will go into effect on September 29, 2020. Until then, drivers must continue to follow the existing HOS rules.

Four Basic Components to Final Rule

1. 30-Minute Break Requirement

First, under the existing rules, drivers must rest for 30 minutes after being on-duty, in any capacity, for eight hours. Under the Final Rule, drivers will be required to take a 30-minute break only after driving for eight hours, and the driver may conduct non-driving related working during this time in lieu of resting. Drivers will have more control over their time under this change.

2. Sleeper Berth Provision

Second, under the existing rules, drivers must have ten consecutive off-duty hours between driving shifts. Eight of those ten hours must be spent in the truck’s sleeper berth. Under the Final Rule, drivers will be required to spend seven constructive hours in the sleeper berth. This change will increase driver flexibility.

3. Adverse Driving Conditions Exception

Third, when a driver encounters unexpectedly poor weather conditions, the Final Rule allows the driver to extend his or her remining driving time by two hours. This is known as the “adverse driving conditions exception.” This change will reduce drivers stress when encountering poor road conditions.

4. Short-Haul Exception

Finally, short-haul drivers who are currently capped at 12 on-duty hours per day, the Final Rules increases on-duty time to 14 hours per day. The Final Rule also increases the permissible range of operation for these drivers from 100 air miles to 150 air miles. This change will all for routes to be scheduled more efficiently.

For a complete review of the FMCSA’s proposed rules, please click here. Crabbe, Brown & James partners with ALFA International to provide local, regional, and national support to its transportation clients. Partners Rob Buchbinder and Matt Planey are members of ALFA’s Transportation Go Team and can be contacted to assist commercial truck drivers and their companies to offer guidance and assistance in transportation-related legal services. Visit our transportation page for more information.