UPDATED: Split sleeper berth provision among proposed changes to U.S. HoS

by Truck News

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Much-anticipated changes to the U.S. hours-of-service (HoS) rules have been proposed by the U.S Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Five key provisions are being proposed. They are:

  • Tying the 30-minute break requirement to eight hours of driving time without an interruption for at least 30 minutes, and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on duty, not driving status, rather than off duty.
  • Modifying the sleeper berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: one period of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than two consecutive hours, either off duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither period would count against the driver’s 14-hour driving window.
  • Allowing one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but more than three hours, that would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour driving window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.
  • Modifying the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.
  • Changing the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers by lengthening the driver’s maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

The changes, according to the FMCSA, will enhance safety and save the U.S. economy US$274 million.

“This proposed rule seeks to enhance safety by giving America’s commercial drivers more flexibility while maintaining the safety limits on driving time,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

“FMCSA wants drivers and all CMV stakeholders to share their thoughts and opinions on the proposed changes to hours of service rules that we are putting forward today. We listened directly to the concerns of drivers for rules that are safer and have more flexibility – and we have acted. We encourage everyone to review and comment on this proposal,” added FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.

A public comment period is open for 45 days. The Federal Register Notice and instructions on providing comments can be found here.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) lauded the HoS changes announced this morning.

“Secretary Chao and Administrator Martinez are to be commended for their commitment to an open and data-driven process to update the hours-of-service rules,” said ATA president and CEO Chris Spear. “We look forward to studying and understanding how these proposed changes will impact our industry so we can provide relevant data and information to strengthen and support a good final rule that bolsters safety and provides drivers needed flexibility.”

“In the 15 years since the last major revisions to the hours-of-service, we as an industry have learned a great deal about how these rules impact our drivers,” added ATA chairman Barry Pottle, president of Pottle’s Transportation. “The valuable experience and data we’ve gained over that time will make it easier to provide flexibility for drivers to get additional rest and find parking while keeping our highways safe.”

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  • None of these rules have anything to do with safety. This is not a one size fits all world, how in the name of God does a computer know when I am tired?! These elds are forcing drivers to race the clock instead of driving in a safe manner, thereby increasing the risk to themselves and the public.