Need help with hours changes? We’ve got good info

Updated Oct 3, 2020

Changes to the federal hours of service regulations arrived Tuesday, Sept. 29, and by now America’s truckers are meant to be enjoying more flexibility when they drive. At least that’s what the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said when it enacted the changes.

Still, even after all the build-up over the last year getting to this point, some of the provisions of the changes may still raise questions. Fortunately, the FMCSA, our colleagues at Overdrive, and the folks at the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association have created some study aids you may find helpful.

Just to recap, the changes include:

  • drivers will be allowed to use their 30-minute break in an on-duty, not-driving status and requiring it within their first eight hours of drive time, rather than their first eight hours on-duty
  • modifies the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their 10-hour off-duty period into windows of seven hours and three hours, in addition to the existing eight-hour, two-hour option. It also adds the shorter period in any split off-duty will pause the rolling on-duty clock
  • allows drivers to extend their drive-time limit and their on-duty window by two hours if they encounter adverse weather conditions or traffic congestion
  • changes the short-haul exception available to some commercial drivers by lengthening their 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

And, here’s some help sorting it all out.

FMCSA created an online tool to help drivers sort out and avoid any hours of service issues. FMCSA’s Educational Tool for Hours of Service (ETHOS) helps motor carriers and drivers better understand the HOS regulations. When drivers and carriers enter their duty statuses into the web-based log on the page, ETHOS will identify where potential violations of the following rules may have occurred:

  • 11-hour driving limit (property) or 10-hour driving limit (passenger)
  • 14-hour driving window (property) or 15-hour on-duty limit (passenger)
  • 30-minute break (property)
  • Sleeper berth provision

ETHOS can be found here.