FMCSA Looking To Adjust HOS Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association is currently considering some major changes to its hour of service regulations. The overall theme? Flexibility. The changes would focus on four key areas:
Extending the 14-hour daily limit to 16 hours in the event of "adverse conditions," including weather and traffic
Allowing drivers to split up their 10 hours of off-duty time into segments
Revising the "30-minute break after 8-hours of driving" rule
Expanding short-haul drivers' on-duty hours from 12 to 14
The FMCSA has been seeking industry input - even holding a listening session in late August to hear what business owners, drivers, and industry representatives had to say on the subject. The general consensus was that flexibility in hours would help promote safety and productivity.
The "adverse conditions" rule adjustment would allow a driver to finish his or her drive in one day if weather or traffic cause minor delays that were enough to push the on-duty time past the 14-hour mark.
This would ensure that the delivery would be made in time and the driver would not need to stop within an hour of his or her destination. In addition, this would often negate the need to drive faster than what would be considered safe in any given circumstance.
Splitting up the 10-hour off duty time was arguably the most pushed-for change in the rules. One suggestion was that it could allow a driver to separate their 10 hours into increments of 7/3, 6/4, or 5/5. Not only would this help with fatigue, as drivers could rest in the middle of their drive without wasting any time, but it would allow the driver to stay off the road during the busiest times of the day.
For instance, drivers could choose to take part of their 10-hour rest during rush hour, and spend less time in traffic and more time advancing towards their destination. Drivers would feel less pressure to reach their destination within a certain timeframe and would therefore drive safer.
The "30-minute break after 8 -hours of driving" rule has been widely criticized, with many industry reps calling for it to be removed. The argument is that drivers are already going to take that break at some point during their drive, and that it should be up to them when they take it.
As for expanding short-haul drivers' hours, it would reap many of the same benefits as the above changes: more flexibility in travel time, less need to drive over the speed limit, and an increase in safety overall.
These regulation adjustments would mark the first time in 15 years that the FMCSA has re-evaluated the rules. If and how they will be implemented remains to be seen, but industry workers are excited for the potential changes and hopeful for the future.