New US Hours-of-Service Rules Take Effect July 1

Within the trucking industry, new rules for truck drivers' hours-of-service (HOS) requirements issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have been a hotbed topic for some time. Recently the American Trucking Associations challenged these new rules in court and asked the FMCSA to delay the compliance requirement date for three months after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia makes its decision. The FMCSA has denied that request, maintaining the original date of July 1 of this year. So with all the back and forth on this issue, what do these new rules really mean for truck drivers and fleets?

It's important to start by explaining what the July 1 date truly signifies: the compliance date. The final rule released by the FMCSA took effect on February 27, 2012, but fleets and drivers won't be held accountable for the new regulations until July 1 of this year. The most contested new rule is the FMCSA's limitations on restarts, specifically the use of a "34-hour restart." As summarized recently by Transport Topics, drivers will be allowed to "reset their weekly driving limits of 60 hours in seven days, or 70 hours in eight days, if they rest for 34 hours." This reset is nothing new; what are new are limitations that the restart can only be used once per week and must include two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. home terminal time. Related to this is a new provision that drivers must rest at least 30 consecutive minutes after every eight hours or less of driving. These two provisions are those that the ATA is contesting; even the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has gotten involved, asking the FMCSA to delay the compliance date out of fear that law-enforcement agencies may have duplicative or unnecessary training requirements, depending on the court's decision.

HOS rules have a long history as a hotbed subject in the trucking industry, and fleets and drivers will need to be more aware of driving time and recordings. Oilfield operators specifically now will need to report waiting times on logbooks or their electronic equivalent as off duty. Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBR) may help fleets in ensuring compliance with these new HOS rules, but smaller fleets that often do not have EOBR technology will need to ensure all drivers are made aware of the new rules and educate office staff on the need for additional monitoring of paper log books until new habits take hold. Whatever the courts may decide, take this opportunity to review your drivers' understanding of the laws and rules they're required to follow and the way that office staff monitors compliance.

This entry was posted on March 11th, 2013 by bobby and is filed under Recent News & Updates.