Understanding the Final Rule on HOS: 4 Key Changes

May 28, 2020

On May 14, 2020, the FMCSA issued its long-anticipated Final Rule on Hours of Service. The new rule introduces four revisions to the current Hours of Service (HOS) regulations for commercial motor vehicle drivers across the U.S. With these revisions, the FMCSA is addressing many of the concerns voiced by carriers and truckers during the public comment period, with the goal of increasing flexibility without compromising safety.

“This new final rule will improve safety for all motorists and increase flexibility for America’s truckers,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. “Each of these areas of reform are designed to provide much-needed flexibility to drivers while maintaining safety on the roads. This has been a deliberate and careful process.”

With multiple recent changes in FMCSA regulations—including March's emergency declaration and this new rule—it's more important than ever for fleets to stay informed about updates to regulations and how those changes impact compliance operations. In this post, we’ll cover each of the four major revisions from the FMCSA’s Final Rule on Hours of Service and how these changes may impact your drivers and operations:

  1. 30-minute break period

  2. Split sleeper berth exception

  3. Adverse driving condition exception

  4. Short-haul logging exception

1. 30-minute break period

Drivers can now take their 30-minute break while being on-duty not driving, with a break required after 8 hours of driving time, not on-duty time. 

  • What was the rule before? Previously, drivers could not drive after being on-duty for more than 8 hours without taking a 30-minute break and had to be completely off-duty throughout the break period. Under the new rule, a driver cannot drive for more than 8 hours before being required to take a 30-minute break, but could have been on-duty for more than 8 hours. Drivers will also be able to satisfy the 30-minute break requirement with off-duty, sleeper berth, and/or on-duty not driving time.

  • How does this impact your fleet? These changes to the 30-minute break period provide drivers with more flexibility in how they perform their non-driving tasks, allow them to be more efficient, and may help them more easily complete routes.

2. Split sleeper berth exception

When using the split sleeper berth exception, drivers can now split their required 10 hours off-duty into either an 8/2 split or 7/3 split, with neither option affecting their 14-hour driving window.

  • What was the rule before? Previously, only 8/2 splits were permitted, with the 2 hour period counting against a driver’s 14-hour driving window.

  • How does this impact your fleet? This change gives drivers additional flexibility in how they take their off-duty time, which may allow them to plan their schedules and work more efficiently.

3. Adverse driving condition exception

When using the adverse driving condition exception, drivers can now extend the maximum “driving window” by up to 2 hours. For example, drivers with a maximum driving window of 14 hours can use the adverse driving condition exception to complete their drive time in a 16 hour driving window.

  • What was the rule before? In adverse driving conditions, drivers were limited to driving up to 2 hours beyond their maximum drive time. This did not impact their maximum driving window. 

  • How does this impact your fleet? Drivers using the adverse driving condition exception will now have the flexibility to safely wait out adverse driving conditions or drive at a slower speed to avoid any incidents.

4. Short-haul logging exception

The radius of the short-haul logging exception is expanded to 150 air miles, and short-haul drivers now have a maximum on-duty period of 14 hours.

  • What was the rule before? Previously, the short-haul exception was limited to drivers who operated within 100 air miles of their work reporting location. Those drivers were also limited to 12 hours of on-duty time.

  • How does this impact your fleet? This change makes more drivers eligible to use the short-haul exception. By allowing short-haul drivers to be on-duty longer, it may also increase productivity.

Your partner through changing regulations

We know regulatory changes can be difficult to keep track of—and we're always looking for ways to keep our customers up-to-date on the latest FMCSA news. That's why we recently reached out to Alais Griffin, who served as the FMCSA Chief Counsel when the agency issued the 2011 Hours of Service Final Rule. “The regulations can be complicated,” said Griffin. “While the new rules will give truckers more flexibility, it will be critical for carriers and drivers to partner with an ELD manufacturer who really understands the HOS regulations and will help fleets maintain compliance with the changing rules.”   

“It will be critical for carriers and drivers to partner with an ELD manufacturer who really understands the HOS regulations and will help fleets maintain compliance with the changing rules.”

- Alais Griffin, Former FMCSA Chief Counsel

Full support with Samsara

Samsara provides full support for the new rules that went into effect on September 29, 2020. If you have questions on how to manage these changes for your fleet, our support team is available 24/7/365 to guide you through the process.

See how we support customers through the changes in our latest customer training webinar:

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