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FMCSA final rule amends trucker hours-of-service regulations – Safety+Health magazine

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has unveiled a highly anticipated final rule the agency claims will add flexibility to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers.

Under the rule, announced in a May 14 agency press release and slated to take effect 120 days after publication in the Federal Register, FMCSA will:

  • Change the short-haul exception to 150 air miles from 100, and 14 hours on duty from 12, to be consistent for rules with long-haul truck drivers.
  • Extend the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
  • Revise the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving.
  • Reinstate the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks equipped with sleeper berth compartments.

On the heels of multiple delays, FMCSA published a proposed rule in the Aug. 22 Federal Register and set an initial comment deadline of Oct. 7. The comment period later was extended to Oct. 21. FMCSA weighed nearly 8,200 comments on the proposed rule and, on March 2, submitted the proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

The final rule does not include a proposed provision that would have allowed covered commercial motor vehicle operators one rest break of up to three consecutive hours during every 14-hour on-duty period.

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao addressed the final rule in a May 14 video published to the Department of Transportation’s YouTube channel.

“These new commonsense rules give truckers more options when planning their days,” Chao says. “They will 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. When safety rules make sense, drivers are better able to comply, and that benefits everyone.”