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On June 1, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revised the hours of service (HOS) regulations for motor carriers. The HOS final rule will go into effect on September 29th, 2020.

The FMCSA HOS final rule is intended to provide drivers flexibility while promoting safety for drivers on the road. As shippers contend with rising freight rates and managing heightened shipment volumes, while at the same time preparing for retail peak season, understanding the potential impact of the new ruling on truckload capacity is critical to success now and through the end of 2020.

In a recent video,  U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said the FMCSA HOS final rule would “help drivers reach their destination safely without feeling like they’ve got to race against the clock to comply with federal mandates. They will also help truckers get the rest they need when they need it.”

The FMCSA revision to four HOS provisions was based on feedback from industry safety advocacy groups, the U.S. Congress, and the American public. The FMCSA noted that in addition to providing drivers more flexibility and promoting safe driving habits, the HOS final rule is estimated to provide nearly $274MM in annualized cost savings for the U.S. economy and consumers by reducing costs for motor carriers.

FMCSA HOS Final Rule Features Four Revisions

  • Short Haul Exception: The revision to the Short Haul Exception will lengthen the driver’s maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extend the distance limit from 100 air miles to 150 air miles. This revision will provide short-haul carriers more flexibility and has the potential to increase capacity slightly.
  • Adverse Driving Conditions: FMCSA extended the Adverse Driving Conditions Exception by two hours. This revision will ensure drivers have additional time to safely drive to their destination during challenging driving conditions such as snow, ice, sleet, fog, or unusual road conditions.
  • 30-minute Break Requirement: Drivers can now satisfy the 30-minute break requirement by changing their status to on-duty, not driving, instead of off-duty status.
  • Sleeper Berth Exception: FMCSA’s revision will allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off-duty into two periods:
    • One off-duty period must be at least 2 hours long and is in or out of the sleeper berth.
    • At least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth.
    • Both of these periods must equal at least two hours, and when paired together, will not count against the driver’s 14-hour window.

The HOS final rule will promote driver safety while also providing carriers more flexibility on short hauls, driving in adverse conditions, or taking a break. Jim Mullen, FMCSA’s Acting Administrator at the time of this announcement, reiterated the revised HOS rule “will not increase driving time and will continue to prevent CMV (commercial motor vehicle) operations from driving far more than eight consecutive hours without at least 30-minute change in a duty status.”

To learn more about FMCSA HOS final rule, please refer to this FMCSA Fact Sheet.