The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has extended the comment period for its proposal to make changes in truck driver hours of service regulations. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has extended the comment period for its proposal to make changes in truck driver hours of service regulations.

On Aug. 22, the agency published a notice of proposed rulemaking, proposing changes to the hours-of-service rules, many of them issues that had been requested by the trucking industry.

The agency is trying to “fast-track” the changes and initially had only a 45-day period open for comment. However, FMCSA received requests for an extension from the American Trucking Associations, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The new deadline is Oct. 21, 2019.

ATA requested a 30-day extension. It said the extra time was needed gather information from members and provide a more useful response to the detailed questions posed in the NPRM, pointing out that its annual Management Conference and Exhibition is scheduled for Oct. 5–8. Both CVSA and IBT requested a 45- day extension of the comment period. CVSA stated that the original 45-day period did not allow enough time to prepare and approve comments on such a complicated and important issue. The Teamsters also said the additional time was needed to effectively develop responses to the questions that FMCSA asked in the NPRM.

FMCSA proposed five key revisions to the existing HOS rules:

  • Changing the 30-minute break requirement to require a break after eight hours of uninterrupted driving time, not on-duty time, and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on-duty/not driving status, rather than off-duty. So if a driver has to take a break to fuel up, grab a cup of coffee, use the restroom, etc., that can count as the required break.
  • Allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off-duty into two periods: one period of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than two consecutive hours, either off-duty or in the sleeper berth. This would allow a 7/3 or an 8/2 split. Neither period would count against the driver’s 14‑hour driving window.
  • Allow one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than three hours, that would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour on-duty window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift. This would allow, for instance, drivers to take up to a three-hour break to wait out rush hour, without it affecting their maximum on-duty time.
  • Modify the adverse driving conditions exception, adding two hours to the maximum window during which driving is permitted. The current rule allows for that extra two hours of driving time but it still must be within the maximum 14-hour workday. The proposal would allow that workday to be extended to as much as 16 hours in the case of adverse conditions such as extreme weather or congestion. The definition of “adverse driving” would not change.
  • Change the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on‑duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

To read the proposal and file your comments: