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FMCSA Modifies Hours of Service Rules

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency in the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), recently updated hours of service (HOS) rules for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers in an attempt to improve flexibility and safety on American roadways (U.S. Department of Transportation Modernizes Hours of Service Rules to Improve Safety and Increase Flexibility for America’s Truckers). 

“America’s truckers are doing a heroic job keeping our supply chains open during this unprecedented time and these rules will provide them greater flexibility to keep America moving,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said

FMCSA’s hours of service rules have limited the allowable operating hours of CMV drivers since 1937. In an effort to reduce unnecessary burdens placed on drivers without compromising safety, in 2018 FMCSA began soliciting public comments about proposed HOS rule changes, resulting in four key revisions:

  • requiring a break after eight consecutive driving hours and allowing the driver to use on-duty rather than off-duty status for the 30-minute break rule
  • allowing drivers to split their sleeper-berth exception off-duty hours into two periods, with neither period counting against the driver’s 14hour driving window
  • extending the maximum driving time window by two hours for the adverse driving conditions exception
  • lengthening the driver’s maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit from 100 to 150 air miles in the short-haul exception

“The Department of Transportation and the Trump Administration listened directly to the concerns of truckers seeking rules that are safer and have more flexibility – and we have acted,” FMCSA Administrator Jim Mullen said. “These updated hours of service rules are based on the thousands of comments we received from the American people. These reforms will improve safety on America’s roadways and strengthen the nation’s motor carrier industry.”

FMCSA expects the new rule modernizing hours of service regulations to provide approximately $274 million in yearly cost savings. While CMV drivers have certainly played a key role during the COVID-19 crisis, FMCSA needs to make sure it does not compromise the safety of American drivers in order to increase trucking industry profits.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident with a tractor-trailer or other large truck, please contact Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman for a free consultation. We will only receive a fee in the event of a successful resolution of your case.