What Are Proposed Changes to Trucker Hours-of-Service Rules?

The trucker hours-of-service rules were enacted to safeguard commercial vehicle drivers and other road users from accidents caused by tired truckers.

However, the rules have proved controversial. The trucking industry claims they interfere with commerce. Consumer safety groups claim they don’t go far enough.

The rules are currently under review. A public listening session on potential changes to truck driver hours-of-service (HOS) rules was held on September 14.

This announcement followed an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) on August 23.

trucker hours-of-service rules

Changes are mooted to trucker hours-of-service rules

The body is looking at potential changes to four trucker hours-of-service rules, specifically:

  • The short-haul hours-of-service limit;
  • The 30-minute rest break provision;
  • The hours-of-service exception for bad driving conditions;
  • The split-sleeper berth rule that allows drivers to split their required time in the truck’s sleeper berth.

These changes could have a fundamental impact on the lifestyles of truckers and on accident rates on the highways of America.

The public comment period that was supposed to end on Sept. 24 was extended to Oct. 10 following requests for more time from organizations including the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, American Trucking Associations, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, National Pork Producers Council, and the National Tank Truck Carriers.

Many truckers appear to welcome changes that would give them more flexibility in their working weeks, reported Transport Topics.

A report in The Packer linked possible relaxations in the trucker hours of service rules to complaints from the trucking industry about delays in shipping and increases in costs associated with new electronic device logging rules.

The electronic device mandate came into effect on April 1, 2018. The ELD devices are designed to foster a safer working environment for drivers and to make it quicker to accurately track, manage and share records of duty status data. The ELD devices synchronize with a truck’s engine. They automatically record its driving time. The FMSCA has justified the devices because they allow more accurate hours of service recording.

The FMCSA said the introduction of the devices has prompted possible revisions of some hours of service rules.

Federal regulators have requested comments on expanding the current 100-mile “short-haul” exemption to 14 hours on duty. At present, short-haul drivers can only be on duty for 12 hours. The change means short-haul drivers are on the same regime as long-haul truck drivers.

The FMSCA is considering extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by another two hours if a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.

Many truckers are welcoming the additional flexibility these changes offer. However, it remains to be seen if they will impact the safety of other road users. Georgia has seen many horrific truck accidents. If you or a family member has been involving in a commercial vehicle accident, please call our Georgia trucking accident lawyers at (404) 913-1529.