New Hours-of-Service FAQs
A lot of questions still surround new hours of service regulations.
June 2013, TruckingInfo.com - WebXclusive
Unless the courts step in and rein in new hours of service rules, they are set to take effect on July 1. J.J.Keller & Associates has put together some frequently asked questions and answers about them:
Who is affected by the new hours-of-service rules?
The new federal hours-of-service rules, with a compliance deadline of July 1, 2013, apply to drivers and motor carriers who are operating commercial motor vehicles and either:
- Are engaged in interstate commerce and have to comply with the FMCSA’s (federal) safety regulations in 49 CFR Part 395; or
- Are engaged in intrastate commerce — conducted entirely within a single state — and that state has adopted and enforces the new federal HOS regulations
Although portions of the new rules apply to passenger-carrying vehicles (specifically, some of the changes that took effect February 27, 2012), the changes taking place on July 1, 2013, apply only to drivers of property-carrying vehicles.
What are the compliance dates for the new hours-of-service rule?
The hours-of-service final rule was published December 27, 2011. The effective date was February 27, 2012; however, not all the new provisions had to be complied with at that time. The rule included two separate compliance deadlines:
February 27, 2012 (all CMVs):
Effective February 27, 2012, drivers resting in a legally parked vehicle and not using the sleeper berth — whether a bus or a truck — are allowed to log the time as “off duty.” Truck drivers will also be able to log off duty for up to 2 hours riding in a passenger seat on a moving vehicle immediately before or after spending at least 8 consecutive hours in a sleeper berth.
July 1, 2013 (property-carrying CMVs only):
Beginning July 1, 2013, the driving of a property-carrying CMV will not be permitted if more than 8 consecutive hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last rest break of at least 30 consecutive minutes. If the driver has not had at least a 30-minute break by the end of his/her eighth hour, the driver must take a 30-minute break before driving. A lunch break or time resting in the sleeper berth will satisfy this in most cases.
The biggest change will be in the reduction of hours a driver will be allowed to log in a 7-day (168-hour) period, due to changes in the 34-hour “restart” provision. The current rule allows a driver to work right up to his or her 60- or 70-hour limit, take a 34-hour restart, and then go again. This allows a driver to accumulate up to 82 working hours in a 7-day period.
As of July 1, 2013, the new rule will limit the maximum number of hours a driver can work and drive to 70 hours per week, by limiting when and how often a driver can take a “restart.”
One change will require that the restart break include two back-to-back nighttime periods of rest from 1:00 am to 5:00 am, which could force some drivers to be off duty for longer than 34 hours to get a valid restart.
Another change will limit the use of the restart to once in any 168-hour period (exactly 7 days, down to the hour). The rule specifically says that a driver cannot start another restart break until 168 hours have passed since the start of his or her last restart break.
Also, if a driver has multiple potential 34-hour restart periods off within a 7-day period, the driver will need to indicate on the log or time records which one of those breaks is being counted as the restart, if any.
Early compliance with 2013 rules
As these new rules are stricter than the ones they are replacing, voluntary compliance was allowed with all the new 2013 provisions beginning February 27, 2012.
Where can I find the new provisions?
The changes that most drivers and carriers need to worry about are found in:
- 49 CFR Sec. 395.2, under the definition of "on duty time"; and
- 49 CFR Sec. 395.3, the basic HOS limits for drivers of property-carrying vehicles.
Is there a grace period for compliance?
No. Compliance with all provisions in the new hours-of-service rules is required as of 12:01 a.m. on July 1, 2013. Individual enforcement officers or agencies may choose “soft enforcement” for a period of time after July 1, but that is not official or guaranteed.
In part, this means that drivers taking a restart break after July 1 will need to make sure that the break does not begin until 168 hours after the last restart break, even if that last break was taken prior to July 1.
Will the courts delay the July 1 deadline?
A decision in a pending legal challenge to the new hours-of-service rules is expected any day from a federal appeals court. The decision may or may not arrive before July 1 (the court does not have to meet a specific deadline), and the decision may or may not have any effect on the compliance deadline or the hours-of-service rules.
Motor carriers and drivers should be prepared to comply with the HOS rules on July 1, but watch for news concerning the court decision.
How do the new ‘off-duty’ provisions work (as of 2/27/12)?
- Time spent resting in a parked vehicle (including any type of vehicle, whether truck, bus, car, etc.) can be recorded as “off duty” (unless you are in a sleeper berth, in which case it would have to be recorded as “sleeper berth”). Unless you spend 10 consecutive hours off duty (which may include sleeper-berth time), the time will count against your 14-hour allowance; it will not “stop the clock."
To record such time as “off duty,” the driver must be free of responsibility and obligations to the employer, vehicle, and cargo during the break and must be free to walk away from the vehicle if he/she so chooses. If the company requires the driver to stay in the vehicle or perform work during the break, it must be recorded as “on duty” even if the driver is sitting in a parked vehicle.
- If you spend up to 2 hours riding in a passenger seat on a moving property-carrying CMV immediately before or after an 8-hour sleeper-berth period, then that time can be recorded as “off duty” AND be excluded from the 14-hour calculation. This should benefit team drivers who no longer have to spend a full 10 hours in the sleeper berth; they can spend 8 hours in the bunk and another 2 hours riding in a passenger seat. Time spent in a moving passenger seat beyond 2 hours must be recorded as “on duty” unless the vehicle is parked and the driver is off duty.
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