On 8/23/19, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to alter hours of service (HOS) regulations. The comment period ended 10/21/19. The NPRM recommended the following changes.

  • Provide drivers with greater flexibility for the 30-minute rest break by requiring a break after 8
    hours of drive time, instead of “on-duty” time, and allowing the 30 minutes to occur as an on-duty
    break rather than an off-duty break.
  • Extend on-duty time by 2-hours for adverse weather.
  • Extend the “short haul” exception from 100 air-mile radius to 150 miles and increase allowable
    drive time from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours.
  • Allow drivers to split the required off-duty time into two periods: one period of at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and a second period of not less than 2 consecutive hours either off-duty or in the sleeper berth.
  • Allow one off-duty break of between 30 minutes and 3 hours that would pause the 14-hour
    driving window as long as the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the shift.

On 10/1/19, the FMCSA opened registration for Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. Stakeholders can now visit https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov to create an online user account at no cost. Drivers are not required to register with the Clearinghouse until responding to an employer’s request for consent prior to a query being conducted by the employer.

The Clearinghouse is an online data repository from which employers, state regulatory agencies, and law enforcement can check a CDL holder’s drug and alcohol violations. Beginning 1/6/2023, states must query the Clearinghouse in response to an application for a CDL. In the meantime, states may voluntarily query the clearinghouse beginning 1/6/2020. A second proposed rule is expected from the FMCSA, which will instruct states on how to use the information received from a Clearinghouse query.

On 9/13/19, the FMCSA amended its HOS restart rules for property-carrying commercial motor vehicles. The final rule removes the requirement that a 34-hour restart include two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. and limits use of a restart to once every 168 hours. The change comes after a 2017 study found no statistically significant benefits from the restart rule, which was promulgated in 2011. In 2017, Congress passed appropriations Acts that voided the restart provisions, which have not been enforced since that time. This final rule removes those restart provisions from hours of service regulations to avoid confusion for drivers and carriers.

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Allen Smith

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Austin Walsh

The information published in Hedrick Gardner Alerts is general in nature and not intended to take the place of legal advice on any particular matter. © 2019 Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo LLP