New Federal Rule Affects Commercial Drivers


Federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations affect most drivers of commercial vehicles, including those in New York. Generally, a commercial motor vehicle is a vehicle that is used in interstate commerce and meets minimum weight or passenger criteria. Such vehicles include, for example, trucks weighing over five tons that travel across state lines. HOS regulations limit the hours a commercial vehicle driver can be on the road in a period of time. The purpose of these regulations is to reduce the incidence of truck accidents.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently implemented HOS rule changes. The previous rule did not state explicitly the frequency of rest breaks, but under the new rule, a driver cannot drive for more than eight hours without taking at least a 30-minute break.

Another new provision redefines on-duty time to exclude time a driver spends resting in a parked vehicle. The new rule also specifies a penalty for allowing a driver to exceed the HOS driving time limit by three hours or more, while the former rule did not.

Extensive records must be kept to comply with the new rule. The driver must record time:

  • On duty, not driving
  • Driving
  • In the sleeper berth
  • Off duty

The new rule will affect the amount of time it takes commercial drivers to complete their assigned tasks. While the rule is intended to increase safety for the driver and others on the road, the changes can have a significant impact on trip times.

Transportation company representatives expressed concern that the new rule is likely to decrease the overall carrier capacity while increasing the costs and decreasing efficiency for their businesses. It is difficult if not impossible, though, to quantify the value of lives and property that could be saved if the new rule puts better-rested, safer drivers on our highways.

Source: US Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Summary of Hours of Service Regulations“.

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