Hours of Service Updates on the Horizon?
FEBRUARY 21, 2019 – It’s been over a year since the ELD mandate went into effect.
And with it? A flurry of hours of service exemptions from carriers who were finding it difficult to do their jobs now that their hours were being so closely tracked.
As it turns out (and as most drivers knew all along), the current hours of service regulations were outdated – and too rigid to allow them to do their jobs properly. Many also felt it jeopardized their safety by pressuring them to stay behind the wheel even when their bodies told them to stop and take a break. Because when you’re on an already tight schedule – and the clock keeps ticking – who can afford an extra hour or two off the road?
The combination of exemption requests and complaints the FMCSA received in the wake of the mandate brought this issue to the attention of the agency, which is now considering revisions to the current regulations so that drivers will have the flexibility needed to do their jobs safely and effectively.
Specifically, the agency is considering the following hours of service changes:
- Giving drivers who use the 100 air mile, short-haul exemption an additional two hours of on-duty time each day. This will give them up to 14 hours of available on-duty time.
- Allowing drivers an extra two hours of time when they encounter adverse driving conditions.
- Eliminating the 30-minute rest break that is required after eight hours of continuous driving.
- Providing split sleeper berth options for the required 10 hour off-duty period.
In preparation for these changes, the agency announced that it was canceling the split-sleeper berth study that was scheduled for this year. With changes to the current regulations expected soon, the study was deemed unnecessary, the FMCSA stated. For many, this decision to cancel the study indicates how serious the agency is about following through with the proposed changes – and how quickly they intend to make those changes happen.
Although no information has been released yet, a proposed rule is expected in the first half of this year. If that happens, and it proceeds to the final ruling stage quickly, this could very well be the biggest regulatory change of 2019.
What are your thoughts on the proposed hours of service changes? Do you think any changes will go into effect this year? Leave your comments below!