September 2020 Changes to the HOS Rules

In May of 2020, the FMCSA released a final rule on hours of service changes on regulations for commercial motor vehicle drivers. The amendments made changes to a couple rules for both short-haul and long-haul drivers in the US.

These hours of service updates are effective September 29, 2020.

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to simplify and explain what’s been changed so you can stay compliant with the newest FMCSA rules!

If you are unfamiliar or need a reminder of all the USA hours of service rules, you’ll want to read this.

The 4 Major Changes:

Changes to the 30 Minute Break Rule

Every 8 hours of driving, drivers need to take a 30-minute break.

The 30 minute rule still applies – however what your status during those 30-minutes has been updated for more flexibility.

Previously:

Driver must be in “OFF DUTY” status during the 30-minutes.

After September 2020 Update:

Drivers can choose between being in:

  • “OFF DUTY” status
    or
  • “ON-DUTY NOT DRIVING” status

Changes to the Split-Sleeper Provision

The sleeper berth exception allows drivers to spit up their 10-hour break using the ‘SLEEPER BERTH’ duty status.

With the update, drivers now have more flexibility on how they split their 10 hour break. Neither period counting against drivers’ 14-hour driving window.

Previously:

Drivers must split their 10 hour break into an 8 hour +  2 hour SLEEPER BERTH period. 

After September 2020:

Drivers can choose to split their 10 hour break in 2 ways:

  • 8 hour + 2 hour SLEEPER BERTH periods
    OR
  • 7 hour + 3 hour SLEEPER BERTH periods

To save yourself the hassle, get an ELD with all updated rules integrated so you don’t need to worry about keeping track of compliance. Learn more here. (Tip: It’s $0/month for owner operators)

Changes to Adverse Driving Conditions Exemptions

The adverse driving conditions exception allows drivers to have an extra 2 hours of driving time. This means they can drive up to 13 hours total under adverse conditions.

“Adverse driving conditions” are defined as “snow, sleet, fog, other adverse weather conditions, a highway covered with snow or ice, none of which were apparent based on information known to the person dispatching the run at the time it was begun.”

Previously:

The 14 hour rule does not get extended.

Meaning, even if drivers are allowed to drive an extra 2 hours, it still needs to fall within the 14 hour driving window rule.

After September 2020:

The 14 hour driving window gets extended by 2 hours (to a 16 hour driving window).

This way, the extra 2 hours of driving will not put the driver at risk of violating the 14 hour rule, as long as they stop DRIVING within 16 hours of when they went ON DUTY.

Changes to Short-Haul Exemptions

The short-haul exception has been updated for 100-air mile drivers. The update increases the air-mile radius that qualifies a driver as ‘short haul’, and extends their maximum on-duty period.

Previously:

Drivers operating within a 100 air-mile radius qualifies for the short-haul exemption.

These drivers can have a maximum ON-DUTY period of 12 hours.

After September 2020:

Drivers operating within a 150 air-mile radius qualifies for the short-haul exemption.

These drivers can have a maximum ON-DUTY period of 14 hours.

That's all of it

Not too confusing right?

Make sure you recognize which of the newest FMCSA rules apply to you, because they were meant to provide more flexibility for drivers.

For a free guide on all the Hours of Service rules in the US and Canada, click here.

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