In announcing new Hours of Service (HOS) rules, Annette Sandberg , Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), noted that though the new regulations go into effect on October 1, there will time until December 31 to work with enforcement agencies to assure that provisions are understood and are being met.
Sandberg was at great pains in presenting the new rules to point out that they were aimed at providing for the well-being, general health and safety of drivers. Driver health and safety were the issues pointed out as lacking in earlier HOS rules. She indicated that while the Administration was confident in its science with the original rules, it now had reassured itself that it was correct in the first place.
Three areas of the new rules received particular attention in Sandberg’s remarks. The first was in the matter of sleeper berths. Under the new rules, drivers must have 10 consecutive and uninterrupted hours off-duty. This applies to drivers whether the long haul trucks run as teams or individuals.
Second, for what FMCSA sees as short-haul work, operators of commercial motor vehicles that do not require a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and are operating within a 150 air-mile radius of their normal work reporting location – returning there at the end of the day – may now extend their hours on any 2 days of every 7 consecutive days from 14 hours to 16 hours.
According to Sandberg, the reasoning behind these new exceptions for short-haul drivers is that much of what happens in their work involves them getting into and out of their cabs to pickup and deliver and perform duties other than driving. A stipulation is that the vehicle being driven cannot exceed 26,001 pounds gross vehicle weight.
Third, where previously drivers were limited to 60/70 on duty hours in 7/8 days before beginning to count a 34-hour restart period, that has been changed in the new rules so that the 34-hour restart period may begin at the start of any consecutive 34-hour off-duty period.