The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has simplified its instructions for driver off-duty time.

The old guidance said that the driver had to get written instructions from his employer spelling out how long the off-duty time would be.

Under the new guidance, effective today, there is no requirement for employer instructions, either written or verbal.

In a notice in today’s Federal Register, the agency said the old requirement had the effect of discouraging drivers from taking breaks or documenting those breaks in their logs.

It imposed a recordkeeping requirement but did require that records actually be kept. Also, it was not enforceable because it said the break had to be long enough to “significantly reduce” fatigue.

The new guidance says drivers may record meal and other routine stops, including the 30-minute break required by the new hours of service rule, as off-duty time provided they are relieved of duty for the truck and its cargo and they are at liberty to do what they want during the break.