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FMCSA Updates Hours of Service (HOS) Rules: What’s Changed for Truck Drivers?

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) updated its Hours of Service (HOS) rules earlier this year. Still, many truck drivers and trucking companies may not be aware of the new rules.

The FMCSA published the revised HOS regulations in 49 CFR Part 395 back in June 2020, but the new rules did not go into effect until September 29, 2020. The federal agency’s HOS rules outline driving limits for drivers of commercial motor vehicles and trucks.

What’s Changed for Truck Drivers?

The updated Hours of Service rules include four changes designed to make our country’s roads safer while offering truck drivers more flexibility. The four changes are:

  1. The 30-minute break requirement. The updated HOS regulations now allow drivers to satisfy the 30-minute break requirement by performing other on-duty but not driving tasks or taking an off-duty break after 8 consecutive hours of driving time have elapsed.
  2. Maximum workday and radius in the short-haul exception. The new HOS rules increased the maximum allowable workday for short-haul drivers from 12 to 14 hours. Also, the FMCSA extended the maximum radius in the short-haul exception from 100 to 150 air-miles. Note: Property- and passenger-carrying drivers using the short-haul exception are not required to take a 30-minute break from driving and can record hours in a time record.
  3. The adverse driving condition exception. When unforeseen adverse weather conditions such as snow, ice, sleet, fog, or others are encountered, the driver’s workday can be extended by up to two hours. The exception applies to both property and passenger carriers.
  4. The sleeper berth provision. Commercial vehicle drivers are permitted to split their 10-hour off-duty period in different ways provided that one of the periods is at least two hours long and the other has a minimum of seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth. The periods must add up to at least 10 hours.

Summary of Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations

Drivers of commercial motor vehicles are also subject to existing Hours of Service regulations, including:

  • The driving limit. Property-carrying drivers cannot drive for longer than 11 hours after 10 consecutive off-duty hours, while passenger-carrying operators are not permitted to drive for more than 10 hours after 8 consecutive off-duty hours.
  • The workday limit. Property carriers may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, while passenger carriers are not allowed to drive after having been on duty for 15 hours. Note: Off-duty time is not included in the 14- or 15-hour period.
  • The workweek limit. Both truck drivers carrying property and passengers are prohibited from driving after 60 or 70 hours on duty in 7 or 8 consecutive days, respectively.

A truck driver’s fatigue and drowsiness are two common contributing factors in truck crashes on our nation’s roads. Hours of Service regulations are designed to minimize the risk of fatigued and drowsy driving, but many truckers ignore these rules. Many trucking companies impose unrealistic deadlines on their drivers, encouraging them to violate HOS rules, while others explicitly train truckers to ignore these rules.

If you were involved in a truck wreck, it is vital to speak with a Lakeland truck accident attorney to investigate your crash and determine liability. Contact our personal injury attorney at The Turnbull Firm to receive a free case review. Call at 863-324-3500 today.

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