Anyone who has any knowledge of the commercial trucking business is well aware of the stipulations and regulations placed on commercial drivers as part of the hours-of-service (HOS) safety program.  In short, this program restricts the amount of consecutive hours that drivers can operate their truck, or be “on duty”.

Hours Of Service

If these rules apply to you or anyone you know, listen up because things are about to change.  Back in December the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the upcoming changes to the HOS requirements.  These changes are being put in place in order to make the road safer for the commercial drivers and the other drivers on the road, but some commercial drivers are going to face challenges with the new guidelines.  The old HOS rule allowed truck drivers up to  82 hours within a seven-day period, the new rule cuts it down to 60/70.  The 60 hours week is going to apply to most drivers, but a company that operates seven-day weeks has the option to put drivers on a 70 hour eight-day week schedule.

Big changes like that one are going to make scheduling a lot more tricky for drivers, but there’s more.  The 34-hour restart is another current rule and it’s counterpart is going to mean limitations for drivers.  As of now the 34-hour break can be taken whenever the driver initiates it, but now this restart or reset must include two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. in their local time zone, and can only be used once a week.  The mandatory seven days between these 34-hour breaks won’t effect drivers with a normal schedules, but those with variable ones, are going to have to do a lot of planning now.  The driver that works a normal 9 or 10 day hours a day, six-days a week won’t go over the alotted driving hours for their week, and be able to rest a day before returning to work and beginning all over again.  On the other hand, drivers with longer driving-hours-a-day will hit their 60 hours and have to stop until they can reset and begin again.  The new seven day regulation between resets means a driver may have driven 60 hours from Monday to Thursday and is forced to stop driving, and then wait to even be able to take their 34-hour break a week after their last one, and then they can begin driving again.  A change that may help this predicament is the on-duty definition change.  Time that drivers spend sitting in their vehicle will no longer be considered “on-duty” allowing drivers to park and rest in their truck, and co-drivers to be in the passenger seat without losing drive time.

In addition the 100 Air-Mile Radius exemption is enforcing 30 hour break times, and defining “egregious violations” will allow them to be enforced and open up companies and drivers to fines for exceeding driving limits.

So when are all of these changes taking place?  July 2013.

Need more information?  Check out the FMCSA’s website for details. Or…

Hours of Service of Drivers Final Rule