On August 21, 2018, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) inviting public input on potential changes to the hours of service (HOS) rules for truck drivers. The United States is currently experiencing reduced truck capacity in certain regions, which some have linked to the restrictions that the HOS rules place on drivers and the new electronic logging device mandate for recording drivers’ hours. The ANPRM seeks feedback from the public to determine if revisions to the HOS rules would alleviate unnecessary burdens placed on drivers while maintaining safety on our nation’s highways.

Specifically, the FMCSA is seeking public input in the following areas:

  • Short-haul HOS limit: The FMCSA is considering whether to expand the current 100 air-mile “short haul” exemption from 12 consecutive hours on duty to 14 consecutive hours on duty. The exemption allows a driver to avoid recording on- and off-duty hours, including the now mandated use of an electronic logging device. Currently, drivers may take advantage of this exemption if they meet certain conditions, including a return to their work reporting location and release from work within 12 consecutive hours, and driving no more than 11 total hours in the 12-hour on-duty window. (See 49 CFR 395.1(e)(1)(ii)(A) and 49 CFR 395.3(a)(2)-(3)).
  • HOS exception for adverse driving conditions: The FMCSA is considering whether to expand the 14-hour on-duty window to 16 hours. Current rules allow up to 13 hours of driving time under adverse conditions, instead of the normal 11 hours, but the rules do not provide a corresponding extension of the 14-hour driving window to 16 hours (See 49 CFR 395.1(b)(1)).
  • 30-minute rest break provision: The FMCSA is considering whether to eliminate or modify the current 30-minute rest break requirement. Currently, driving is not permitted if more than eight hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes (except for drivers who qualify for the short-haul or other exemptions) (See 49 CFR 395.3(a)(3)(ii)).
  • Split sleeper berth time: The FMCSA is considering whether to modify the current sleeper berth requirements to increase flexibility under the rules. Current rules allow a sleeper berth user to divide the minimum 10-hour off-duty period into two equivalent separate periods. Drivers who use sleeper berths must take at least eight consecutive hours of the 10-hour off-duty period in the sleeper berth. Additionally, a driver must have a separate period of at least two hours off duty to acquire additional driving time. The FMCSA also announced a proposal in its Pilot Program to Allow Commercial Drivers to Split Sleeper Berth Time on June 6, 2017 (82 FR 26232) (See 49 CFR 393.76 and 49 CFR 395.1(g)(1)(ii)(A)(1)).
  • OOIDA petition for rulemaking: On February 13, 2018, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) petitioned the FMCSA to amend the HOS rules to allow drivers to take a rest break once per 14-hour duty period for up to three consecutive hours if the driver is off duty, thereby allowing an extension of the 14-hour driving window. The FMCSA seeks comments on this petition, including potential safety risks and benefits.
  • TruckerNation petition for rulemaking: On May 10, 2018, TruckerNation.org petitioned the FMCSA to revise the prohibition against driving after the 14th hour after the beginning of the work shift, or alternatively to prohibit driving after the driver has accumulated 14 hours of on-duty time. Additionally, TruckerNation requested that the FMCSA allow drivers to use multiple off-duty periods of three hours or longer instead of having 10 consecutive hours off duty and eliminate the 30-minute rest break requirement. The FMCSA seeks comments on this petition, including potential safety risks and benefits.

The FMCSA has included specific questions in the ANPRM for which it seeks input from industry. Responsive comments to the questions and this ANPRM generally must be submitted under the docket number FMCSA-2018-0248 on or before September 24, 2018.

The FMCSA will also hold a public listening session regarding the ANPRM on August 24 in Dallas at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, 650 South Griffin Street. The session will begin at 3:00 p.m. local time.