Revised FMCSA Final Rule on Hours of Service Goes Into Effect in Sept

Revised rules from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that impact Hours of Services regulations are set to go into effect on Sept. 29, 2020. Every commercial carrier company as well as drivers should take note of the FMCSA Final Rule changes so they can remain in compliance.

The following provides a summary of these new FMCSA Hours of Service regulations. Much like the FMCSA emergency declaration in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak, the FMCSA Final Rule changes will impact how fleet managers and drivers handle their work.

“These changes reflect how telematics continues to impact the commercial carrier industry,” said Dan Shive, Director of Client Engagement and Account Management. “With the more detailed and accurate information that telematic devices provide, the FMCSA has been able to make changes that offer drivers more flexibility in how they handle mandated breaks and sleep time.”

Summary of FMCSA Hours of Service Regulations

The following changes are being made to Hours of Service Final Rules for commercial drivers. As stated by the FMCSA, “This Final Rule will not result in any new costs for regulated entities. Instead, this rule will result in increased flexibility for drivers and a quantified reduction in costs for motor carriers.”

The FMCSA made the changes because the accuracy of electronic data offered by drivers and carrier companies using telematics devices “is much higher than the information that was previously provided on paper.”

The first two items apply to drivers operating property-carrying commercial motor vehicles, according to the FMCSA, while the final two items apply to drivers operating either property-carrying or passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicles.

What is Hours of Service (HOS)

The 30-Minute Break Rule

The revised rule requires that drivers take a 30-minute break after eight hours of driving time rather than on-duty time. They can meet this regulation by using “on-duty, not-driving status” rather than having to use off-duty status. 

Sleeper-Berth Exception

Rules require drivers to take 10 hours of off duty time after driving 14 consecutive hours. The modified sleeper-berth exception provides more flexibility in how drivers account for those 10 hours. They may now split their 10 hours off-duty into two periods: one of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth; the other of not less than two consecutive hours, either off duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither period counts against the driver’s 14-hour driving window.

Please note if you use Sleeper Berth in your Geotab Drive app; Action Needed:

If the fleet has users of Sleeper Berth splits, those users will need to choose a NEW ruleset within Geotab Drive, that will be available on Sep 28. This new ruleset will include the “Split Sleeper” nomenclature. It means that the ruleset that we currently use, which includes Sleeper Berth by default, will cease supporting Sleeper Berth on Sep 29.  Drivers should contact their HOS Administrator on September 28th. EnVue client HOS Administrator please reach out to with question or if you need assistance.

Short-Haul Exemption

A modified short-haul exemption lengthens the maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours for certain commercial vehicle drivers. It also extends the radius within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles (115.08 statute miles) to 150 air miles (172.6 statute miles). 

Adverse Driving Conditions

The modified adverse driving conditions exception extends by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted. It’s important for fleet managers and drivers to consult with their telematics providers to see what, if any, actions they need to take to update systems to accommodate these changes. Ultimately, they will result in more flexibility for drivers, thanks to systems that make reporting Hours of Service much easier to accomplish.

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