The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) recently proposed an hours of service change that would allow commercial drivers subject to the authority of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to pause the clock that currently limits them to 14 on-duty hours in a single day. The pause would allow drivers up to stop the clock for up to three consecutive hours and officially go off-duty.
Under the proposed legislation, the DOT would require any driver using the pause feature to go off-duty for a minimum of 10 hours when the 14-hour window plus the pause extension expires. Drivers must go off-duty for at least 30 minutes of the three hours available before they can count it as an official pause.
However, that’s not the only proposed change that could be made. Another part of the proposed change has to with time spent in the sleeper berth. The sleeper-berth extension would be changed to allow drivers to divide the 10 hours of off-duty time into two chunks – at least seven hours spent in the sleeper berth and no less than two hours spent off-duty or in the sleeper berth. These chunks of time would not count against the 14-hour driving window.
It also allows drivers to avoid severe weather conditions by changing the exception for adverse driving conditions. (It would extend the maximum window in which driving is allowed by two hours.)
Benefits of the proposed hours of service change
The FMCSA stated in early August 2019 that allowing drivers to exercise a 30-minute to three-hour pause can help them with safety and flexibility. The proposed change takes some pressure off drivers while still putting metrics in place to ensure their safety and the safety of other drivers and passengers on the road.
Notice of proposed rulemaking
Commercial drivers, as well as members of the public, will have 45 days after the publication of the proposed change in the Federal Register to make comments.
The final ruling on whether to make this permanent change to Hours of Service could take a while. Nevertheless, it’s important for commercial drivers to make their opinions known by taking advantage of the window for making comments. The legislation came about in the first place due to concerns expressed by drivers. The hope is that passage of this recommendation will increase both flexibility and safety for drivers and ease some of the burdens placed on truckers.
Make sure you have adequate truck insurance coverage to protect your interests
The FMCSA has insurance requirements for certain commercial truck drivers. However, you may want to consider additional coverages to protect your business. Our team can help you shop for your truck insurance by getting you multiple quotes, which can help you find the best plans and rates.
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