It's official — The new HOS rules are in effect

By: Tom Bray

Publication: Transport Safety Management Today

Date Posted: 09/30/2020

Hours-of-service rules are in effect

As of 12:01 a.m. Eastern Daylight time, Tuesday, September 29th, the changes to the hours-of-service rules are in effect. These changes are intended to provide drivers with more flexibility, while maintaining the level of safety established in the previous rules.

Here are the four changes that are now in effect:

  • A driver operating a CDL-required property-carrying vehicle or a passenger-carrying vehicle may use a time record in place of a log, provided the driver:
  • Remains within 150 air-miles of the work reporting location; and
  • Returns to the work reporting location and is released for a full break (eight hours for a passenger-carrying driver, 10 hours for a property-carrying driver) within 14 hours.

  • A driver that encounters an adverse driving condition can extend the daily duty-hours and driving limits by up to two hours to complete what could have been completed within the limits, absent the adverse driving condition. So, what is an adverse driving condition? It is a road, weather, or traffic condition that could not have been known at time of dispatch or at the start of the driver’s workday (this change is applicable to all drivers).

  • Once a property-carrying driver accumulates eight hours of driving without a 30-consecutive-minute interruption in driving, the driver must stop driving for 30 minutes. The interruptions in driving can be off-duty, sleeper-berth, or on-duty time.

  • A property-carrying driver that is operating a vehicle with a sleeper berth can break the required 10-hour break into two qualifying breaks, provided:
  • One of the breaks is a minimum of seven hours in the sleeper,
  • The other break is a minimum of two hours of off-duty or sleeper-berth time (or a combination of these two duty statuses),
  • The two qualifying breaks, when combined, total at least 10 hours, and
  • The driving time and duty time (the time toward the 14-hour limit) immediately before and after a qualifying break do not total more than 11 and 14 hours, respectively.

Driver training is key with new HOS rules

If you are going to allow your drivers to use any of the flexibility created by the changes to the rules, the key is training. Here are a few examples:

  • Drivers that are using the 150 air-mile logging exemption for the first time will need to be familiar with the roadside inspection process for short-haul drivers and what will trigger the need to complete a log.

  • Drivers wanting to use the adverse driving conditions exemption will need to be coached on what is considered an adverse driving condition and how to place a note on their log explaining the excess hours.

  • Property-carrying drivers that operate in an environment where they can accumulate eight hours of driving without a 30-minute break from driving will need to be able to calculate when the 30-minute interruption is required.

  • Drivers of sleeper-berth equipped trucks that wish to split log will need to be coached on how to calculate the hours they have available and/or how to use their ELDs to assist in compliance with the limits.

Supervisor training for new HOS rules

Your supervisors will also need to understand the changes, as they are typically the people drivers turn to when there are questions. This requires your supervisors to be trained to the expert level so they can address questions. Also, your supervisors need to understand the use of the flexibility in these rules is optional. If a driver is ill, fatigued, or feels that what a supervisor is asking will lead to an unsafe operating situation, the supervisor cannot force the driver to use any of flexibility created by the changes.

Key to remember: The new HOS rules are in effect. However, if you are not prepared to use them, as in you feel that you, your supervisors, or your drivers do not understand them, tell your drivers to hold off for the time being.

About the author
Tom Bray - Transportation Editor

Tom has been with J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. since 2005. He brought with him an extensive background that includes years of experience in DOT compliance, policy development, driver human resources, driver training, training program development, CDL testing, claims management, and accident and injury prevention.

Expert Help

Have a compliance question for Tom? The J. J. Keller Expert Help tool provides you direct access to Tom and other trusted experts to help answer your toughest compliance questions.