Life on the Road
FMCSA releases new HOS rules
The new Hours of Service rules re-leased by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) main- tain the maximum driving times (11 hours), on-duty times (14 hours) and mandatory rest periods (10 hours), including the 34-hour restart provision, that the industry has been operating under since Jan. 1, 2004. The new rules do, however, include a few changes that could have a significant impact on over-the-road professionals.
The new rules will require drivers who use sleeper-berths to rest for eight consecutive hours and will no longer permit the use of shorter rest periods allowed under the previous rules. CMV drivers using the sleeper berth provision must take at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus two consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.
The new rules will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2005.
Shortly after FMCSA published the revised hours-of-service regulations, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) filed a petition asking the government to reconsider two of the changes. “We are filing for two common sense changes to the new hours-of-service rule,” says OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston.
The new rules are set up so that if a trucker splits up the required 10 hours of off-duty time, one of the two periods must be at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth. The eight-hour rest period stops the 14-hour clock. The other two hours of off-duty time can be taken consecutively, in the sleeper or out, to fulfill the 10-hour off-duty requirement, but don’t stop the 14-hour clock.
FMCSA stresses the importance of the two-hour portion of the split-sleeper berth provision in its final rule for the trucker’s ability to take a nap or rest break, which FMCSA has encouraged as “an important tool in combating fatigue.” OOIDA counters that because the two-hour break does not stop the 14-hour clock, truckers have little incentive to take advantage of it.
“We’re simply asking that those two hours would also stop the clock, that the driver could take those off-duty and not count against his working time,” Johnston says. “We think it’s common sense because it’s consistent with the 10-hour off-duty requirement.” Johnston points out that allowing truckers to take a two-hour midday break to tend to personal affairs is totally consistent with the rest of the regulation and should not count against the 14-hour on-duty clock.
OOIDA has also petitioned the FMSCA to reconsider new split-sleeper berth provisions for teams. Under the new HOS regulations, team drivers would each have to take a minimum of eight consecutive hours off in the sleeper berth. “We’re asking FMSCA to retain the current sleeper-berth exemption, which allows the drivers to take sleeper berth time in increments they want, as long as no period is less than two hours,” Johnston says.
Source: FMCSA, OOIDA