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Earlier this month, the FMCSA updated their Hours of Service rules, which will go into effect by the end of September. The new guidelines affect the breaks that a driver can take during their time on duty, adjustments to the sleeper-berth and adverse driving conditions exemptions, and an increase in the air-mile radius HOS exemption.

Here’s what each of these new changes means for drayage carriers:

30-Minute Break Rule

With the updated guidelines from the FMCSA, drivers still have to take a 30-minute break after driving for 8 consecutive hours. However, instead of having to go completely off duty, which was the standard before these new updates, the driver can take their 30-minute break while on duty.

By staying on duty while taking the 30-minute break, a driver wouldn’t need to worry as much about completing a trip before having to go off duty. Since the driver can stay on duty, the break can be taken anywhere after the 8-hour limit, as long as there’s no driving during that duration. Whether the break is taken at the warehouse while waiting to get unloaded, or on the side of the road, it allows for flexibility in a carrier’s schedule.

Sleeper-Berth Exception

Truck drivers must take a 10-hour break once they have either driven 11 consecutive hours, or have been on duty for 14-hours. Drivers either had to go completely off duty or take a break in the sleeper berth. Previously, drivers that had a sleeper cab were able to split the 10-hour break into 8-hours in the sleeper berth followed by another two hours at another time, as long as it is not past the 14-hour on duty maximum.

With the new rule, drivers can split their ten-hour break into 7 hours in the sleeper berth and 3 hours off-duty. Once those 10 hours are completed, the 14-hour on duty window completely restarts. It aims to increase flexibility for drivers while still getting them the proper rest needed before heading out on the road again.

Adverse Driving Conditions

In a perfect world, weather wouldn’t be one of the biggest headaches for truck drivers and getting to their next destination on time. But when weather events happen, conditions on the road worsen, traffic builds up, and it takes a driver a lot longer to go a shorter distance. Besides possibly being late for an appointment, it cuts into your driving time as well. What if you have back-to-back appointments, but don’t have enough hours to complete the next trip due to weather?

Previously, the FMCSA has addressed with a two-hour extension on the time allowed to drive during the 14-hour window, going from 11 to 13 hours. With the new exemption, the FMCSA extends the 14-hour window to 16 hours, allowing for more time on duty through these conditions. This rule change keeps the 3-hours of on duty time without driving standard for both regular and adverse driving conditions.

Air-Mile Radius Exception

This is the most important rule change specific to drayage carriers. Taking effect later this year, the air-mile radius allowed for a carrier to operate in to stay exempt from logging electronically will extend from 100 to 150 miles, and the time on duty will go from 12 to 14 hours. Now of course, they still have to keep a record in case of inspection and follow the same 10-hour break rules, but this relieves the hassle of the ELD for shorter runs if that’s all a carrier is taking in their operation.

What does this mean for drayage carriers? They can extend their radius of operation an extra 50 miles every way while staying exempt from electronic logging. For true drayage-only carriers, this greatly expands the pool of trips they can take without an ELD. The round trips that fall under this exemption go from anything less than 200 miles to anything below 300 miles. A whole 100-mile difference!

When these changes are eventually implemented, it will be interesting to see how this changes the trucking landscape. One thing is certain: drivers will have greater flexibility to carry out their duties while keeping the length and amount of breaks in tact to keep everyone safe on the roads.

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