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FMCSA Announces Hours of Service Final Rule Changes

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published its long-awaited HOS Drivers Final Rule on changes to 49 CFR Part 395.

These changes will take effect 120 days after date of publication in the Federal Register. 

This final date for proclamation of the HOS rule changes is now dependent on whether any petitions for reconsideration of the final rule are submitted by affected stakeholders to the FMCSA.

According to the FMCSA, the changes are designed “to provide greater flexibility for drivers subject to those rules without adversely affecting safety.”

The HOS rule change has four key features:

  1. Extends the maximum duty period allowed under the short-haul exception in 49 CFR 395.1(e)(1) from 12 hours to 14 hours. It also extends the maximum radius in which the short-haul exception applies from 100 to 150 air-miles;
  1. Expands the driving window during adverse driving conditions by up to an additional 2 hours;
  1. Requires a 30-minute break after 8 hours of driving time (instead of on-duty time) and allows an on-duty/not driving period to qualify as the required break; and
  1. Modifies the sleeper berth exception to allow a driver to meet the 10-hour minimum off-duty requirement by spending at least 7, rather than at least 8 hours of that period in the berth and a minimum off-duty period of at least 2 hours spent inside or outside of the berth, provided the two periods total at least 10 hours. Neither of these two qualifying periods will count against the 14-hour driving window.

How will the HOS Rule be Different?

HOS Rule Change

Existing Requirement

Revised Requirement


Short Haul

  • Drivers using the short-haul (100 air-mile radius) exception may not be on-duty more than 12 hours.

  • Drivers using the short-haul (150 air-mile radius) exception applicable to drivers not requiring a CDL may not drive beyond the 14th or 16th hour on-duty, depending upon the number of days on duty.
  • Extends the maximum
    duty period allowed under the short-haul exception from 12 hours to 14 hours.

  • Extends the maximum radius of the short-haul exception from 100 to 150 air-miles.
  • Increases the number of drivers able to take advantage of the short-haul (150 air-mile) exception.

  • Potentially shifts work and drive time from long-haul to short-haul exception, or from driver to driver.

  • Minimum or no change to hours driven or aggregate vehicle miles traveled (VMT).

Adverse Driving Conditions

  • A driver may drive and be dermitted or required to drive a CMV for not more than 2 additional hours beyond the maximum time allowed.
  • Adverse driving conditions does not currently extend the maximum “driving windows.”
  • Allows a driver to extend the maximum “driving window” by up to 2 hours during adverse driving conditions.

  • This change applies both
    to drivers of property-carrying CMVs (14-hour “driving window”) and passenger-carrying CMVs (15-hour “driving window”).
  • Increases the use of the adverse driving condition provision.

  • Allows driving later in the workday, potentially shifting forward the hours driven and VMT.

  • Allows drivers time to park and wait out the adverse driving condition or to drive slowly through it. This has the potential to decrease crash risk relative to current requirements, assuming drivers now drive through adverse driving conditions.

  • No increase in freight volume or aggregate VMT.

30-Minute Break

  • If more than 8 consecutive hours have passed since the last off-duty (or sleeper berth) period of at least half an hour, a driver must take an off-duty break of at least 30 minutes before driving.
  • Requires a 30-minute break only when a driver has driven for a period of 8 hours without at least a
    30-minute interruption.

  • If required, the break may be satisfied by any non-driving period of 30
    (i.e. on-duty, off-duty, or sleeper berth time.)
  • Increases the on-duty/non-driving time by up-to 30 minutes or allow drivers to reach their destination earlier.

  • No anticipated fatigue effect because drivers continue to be constrained by the 11-hour driving limit and would continue to receive on-duty/non-driving breaks from the driving task.

  • Minimal or no change to hours driven or VMT, as the current off-duty break only impacts these factors if the schedule required driving late within the 14-hour driving window.

Split-Sleeper Berth

  • A driver can use the sleeper berth to get the “equivalent of at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty.”

  • To do this, the driver must spend at least 8 consecutive hours (but less than 10 consecutive hours) in the sleeper berth.

  • This rest period does not count as part of the 14-hour limit.

  • A second, separate rest period must be at least 2 (but less than 10) consecutive hours long.

  • This period may be spent in the sleeper berth, off-duty, or sleeper berth and off-duty combined.

  • It does count as part of the
    maximum 14-hour driving window.
  • Allow drivers to take their required 10 hours off-duty in two periods, provided one off-duty period (whether in or out of the sleeper berth) is at least 2 hours long and the other involves at least 7 consecutive hours spent in the sleeper berth.

  • Neither period counts against the maximum 14-hour driving window.
  • Allow one hour to be shifted from the longer rest period to the shorter rest period.

  • Potentially increase the use of sleeper berths because drivers using a berth have additional hours to complete 11 hours of driving (by virtue of excluding the shorter rest period from the calculation of the 14-hour driving window).

  • No anticipated negative effect on fatigue because aggregate drive limits and off-duty time remains unchanged.

  • Hours driven or VMT may change for an individual driver on a given work shift (by increased use of the sleeper berth). Total hours driven or aggregate VMT would remain the same.