The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has produced a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend hours-of-service requirements.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposes changes to “provide greater flexibility for drivers subject to the hours-of-service rules without adversely affecting safety.”

The first agency proposal is to change the short-haul exception for certain commercial motor vehicle drivers by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours, and extending distance limit from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

FMCSA also proposes to extend the adverse driving conditions exception by two hours. Additionally, the agency suggests increasing flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by requiring a break after eight hours of driving time instead of on-duty time, and allowing an on-duty break to satisfy the requirement as opposed to an off-duty break.

Livestock trailer at Yazel Land and Cattle

A cattle truck parked at the working barn at Yazel Land and Cattle in Vinita, OK during the 2018 Ozark-Osage Ranch Study Tour

FMSCA also proposes to allow drivers to split their required 10-hours off duty into two periods: a period of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth; and the other period of not less than two consecutive hours, either off duty or in the sleeper berth.

Neither period would count against the driver’s 14-hour driving window. Finally, the agency also proposes to allow one off-duty break of 30 minutes to three hours that would pause the 14-hour window, as long as the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off duty at the end of the work shift.

Comments may be submitted by searching docket number FMCSA-2018-0248 on the Federal Register, or by mail to Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

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