New Hours-Of-Service Final Rule Goes Into Effect On September 29, 2020

On June 1, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published the Hours of Service (HOS) final rule that revised the HOS regulations in 49 CFR Part 395, which prescribe driving limits for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.

The rule includes four changes designed to offer drivers greater flexibility, while maintaining the highest safety standards on our Nation’s roads and was developed based on extensive public and industry input.

The HOS Final Rule goes into effect starting on September 29, 2020, and not before.

What’s Changing?

1). Short-Haul Exception: The short-haul exception maximum allowable workday is changing from 12 to 14 hours, and the distance the driver may operate is extending from a 100 air-mile radius to a 150 air-mile radius.

  • Property and passenger carriers using the short-haul exception in §395.1(e)(1) are not required to take a 30-minute break from driving, and are permitted to record hours in a time record, rather than a graph grid log or electronic logging device (ELD). Short-haul operators can drive within a larger air-mile radius and have a longer duty-period under the new rule.
  • No other provisions of the §395.1(e)(1) short-haul exception have changed, nor has the non-CDL short-haul exception in §395.1(e)(2) (property-carrying). 
  • While operating under the short-haul exception, drivers are permitted to keep a time record instead of recording time in a graph grid or with an ELD. 

2). Adverse Driving Conditions Exception: The adverse driving conditions exception is extending the duty day by two hours when adverse driving conditions are encountered. This is in addition to the extra two hours of driving time already allowed. This change applies for both property (14-hour driving window) and passenger (15-hour on-duty limit) motor carriers.

  • When unforeseen adverse driving conditions affect their route.

Adverse driving conditions means snow, ice, sleet, fog, or other adverse weather conditions or unusual road or traffic conditions that were not known, or could not reasonably be known, to:a driver immediately prior to beginning the duty day or immediately before beginning driving after a qualifying rest break or sleeper berth period, or a motor carrier immediately prior to dispatching the driver.

3). If subject to the 30-Minute Break Requirement: The 30-minute break requirement can now be satisfied by an on-duty, not driving break (in addition to an off-duty break). The requirement for property-carrying drivers is applicable in situations where a driver has driven for a period of 8 hours without at least a 30-minute interruption.

  • Per §395.3(a)(3)(ii), property-carrying CMV drivers are required to take a 30-minute break after: 8 hours of driving without at least a 30-minute break. 
  • 30-minute break is satisfied by time: Off-duty; In sleeper birth; On-duty, not driving.  
  • 30 minutes must be consecutive, but can be satisfied by any combination of activities.

4). Sleeper Berth Provision: The sleeper berth provision allows drivers to split their 10-hour off-duty period in different ways (e.g., 7/3, 8/2, 7.5/2.5), provided one off-duty period (whether in or out of the sleeper berth) is at least 2 hours long, and the other involves at least 7 consecutive hours spent in the sleeper berth. The periods must add up to 10 hours, and when used together, neither time period counts against the maximum 14-hour driving window.

  • The sleeper berth provision (§395.1(g)) allows property-carrying* drivers to split their 10-hour off-duty period when the following requirements are met:
  1. One off-duty period (whether in or out of the sleeper berth) is at least 2 hours long, and
  2. The other involves at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth
  3. Both periods added together must equal at least 10 hours
  4. When paired, neither time period counts against the 14-hour driving window
  5.  8-hour sleeper-berth period by itself can no longer be excluded from the 14-hour driving window

Note: The new rule does not change sleeper berth provisions unique to the drivers of CMVs transporting passengers found in §395.1(g)(3). Note: When using the sleeper berth provision, the order of the qualifying breaks does not matter—the break of “at least 2 hours” can fall before or after the sleeper berth period of “at least 7 hours.”