U.S. updates HoS rules, offering more flexibility to drivers – Truck News

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –  After analyzing feedback received over the past two years, the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has updated the Hours-of-Service (HoS) rules that officials say will offer more flexibility to drivers and increase safety on America’s roadways.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao Photo: USDOT

“This new
final rule will improve safety for all motorists and increase flexibility for
America’s truckers,” Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao told a news
conference Thursday.

“It has been guided by the feedback that we have received from truckers, carrier safety advocates, law enforcement and also concerned residents and citizens.”

In all, the
department received more than 8,000 public comments, Chao said.

Key revisions:

  • The agency will increase safety and flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by requiring a break after 8 hours of consecutive driving and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty status.
  • The agency will modify the
    sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off
    duty into two periods: an 8/2 split, or a 7/3 split — with neither period
    counting against the driver’s 14 hour driving window.
  • The agency will modify the adverse
    driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window
    during which driving is permitted.
  • The agency will 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.

No increase
in driving time

Acting FMCSA
Administrator Jim Mullen stressed that the rule changes do not increase driving
time, and will continue to prevent operators from driving for more than eight consecutive
hours without at least a 30-minute break.

The new rule
will have an implementation date of 120 days after publication in the Federal
Register. 

The agency said it will lead to an annualized cost saving of nearly $274 million for the U.S. economy and American consumers.

Both Chao
and Mullen praised the “tremendous contribution” the truck drivers are making
during Covid-19.

“Truckers
are really American heroes, especially at a time like this,” said Chao.

ATA welcomes changes

The American Trucking Associations quickly welcomed the changes, saying it had been engaged in the rulemaking process from the very beginning.

“Today’s
rule is the result of a two-year, data-driven process and it will result in
needed flexibility for America’s professional truck drivers while maintaining
the safety of our roads,” said ATA president and CEO Chris Spear.

The U.S. trucking industry employs more than 7 million people and moves 70% of the country’s domestic freight.

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