Proposal Limits Hours of Service
Sept. 11, 2019—Federal regulators are working to relax rules governing the hours truck drivers can spend behind the wheel. Under current hours-of-service rules, truckers are limited to driving for 11 hours (or 13 hours if they encounter “adverse driving conditions”) within a 14-hour window, and they must be off duty for 10 hours before the clock restarts.
Regulators say driver fatigue is a major risk factor in large truck crashes. One of the biggest proposed changes is to expand the so-called short-haul exception, under which short-haul drivers don’t need to use electronic logging devices to record their hours. The exemption currently applies to drivers who stay within a 100-mile radius and work no more than 12 hours a day. The proposal would expand the radius to 150 miles and extend the permitted workday to 14 hours.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) says extending the driving window would encourage drivers to wait out the adverse conditions or drive slowly through them, rather than attempting to drive quickly through them. However, it creates a longer work period and could therefore increase fatigue.
Another proposed change that could lengthen a driver’s workday is an option to stop the clock on the 14-hour driving window for an off-duty break of 30 minutes to three hours.