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Another Change For Truckers With New Hours-of-Service

Jim McCormack

One of the most confusing new regulations to come out recently is the hours of service, which went into effect February 27, 2012. According to government sources, compliance must be met no later than July 1, 2013.  Much of the existing confusion is due to the weight of the vehicle, type of load, and many other details that cover other contingencies.  However, there are some consistencies built in as well.

The new regulations cover all commercial motor vehicles that have a gross combined weight of 10,001 lbs or more, is designed to transport 9 or more passengers, is involved in interstate or intrastate travel, or transports hazardous material.  Therefore, the new mandates include more types of vehicles and driving conditions than ever before.

When compared to prior provisions, many changes can be seen:

Previously there were no limitations on restarts, but now for every 34 hours on the road there must be two rest periods at the home terminal between 1 and 5 am at least twice per week.

CMV drivers are now limited to 11 hours of drive time only after they have been off 10 consecutive hours.  For passenger carriers they must have 8 consecutive hours off before they are allowed to drive 10 hours.  What's most confusing is that the next regulations also state that CMV drivers may not drive more than 14 hours without 10 consecutive hours off duty and that this time off will not extend the 14 hour limit.  Passenger carriers have an equally confusing regulation that states they cannot drive after having been on duty for 15 hours unless they get 8 consecutive hours of time off.  In both cases, they may not drive more than 60 hours within 8 consecutive days and then must take 34 consecutive hours off.

In both cases drivers must take a 30 minute break every 8 hours.

An additional confusion is with the sleeper berth provision.  CMV drivers must have at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth plus 2 additional hours of rest either inside or outside the berth during their driving time.   Passenger-carrying drivers, on the other hand, may split their 8 hours into two periods provided neither is less than 2 hours.  It may also be important to note that on-duty time does not include any time that includes resting in a parked vehicle and, for moving company drivers, does not include the 2 hours in the passenger seat immediately before or after the required 8 hours in the sleeper berth.

One thing the new regulations hoped to correct was the fact that penalties were often applied when drivers were found to be in violation based on "egregious hours of service."  In the original regulations this term was not defined.  This has been changed.  Egregious is now defined as "driving (or allowing a driver to drive) 3 or more hours beyond the driving-time limit."  In the regulations it stated that an "egregious violation is subject to the maximum civil penalties."  For those on the road it is important to take these new regulations seriously and to document every stop, rest, and sleep period as penalties are expected to be excessive.