When I first read the Department of Transportation’s FMCSA (Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration) Summary of Hours of Service Rules and Regulations, I thought it was easy to read and to the point. Let’s face it, most information coming from government agencies is long, boring, and you need to be an attorney to understand it. On review, it’s well written, but there are a few ramifications that may not be obvious. Not understanding how this fits together could lose customers for a carrier and jobs for a driver.

What’s Changed?

34 Hour Restart — Currently, if you take a 34 hour consecutive rest period, you may restart your week immediately. As of July 1st, you can only restart once in a 168 hour period (Measured from the beginning of the previous restart). Off-duty time must also include two 1am-5am rest periods. The bottom line — it could take up to 50 hours of rest time before restarting.

14 Hour /11 Hour Drive Period — Once a driver begins doing work for the carrier, regardless if it’s paid or unpaid, the clock starts and any driver “…may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty” and, “…may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.” However, as of the new regulations, the driver is required to take a 30 minute break every eight hours. The break is part of the 14/11 so the driver has 13 1/2 hours of work time, not 14.

60/7 or 70/8 — If a carrier works six days per week, they are held to the 60 hours in seven days rule. If they run seven days per week, it’s 70 hours in 8 days. One area where many may be caught unawares is any paid job even a part time job that has nothing to do with trucking goes against the total hours of service. The FMCSA Drivers Guide to HOS Regulations says HOS includes “All time spent doing paid work for anyone who is not a motor carrier, such as a part-time job at a local restaurant.”

Not abiding by these regulations because you didn’t understand them doesn’t lessen the violation. Lowered CSA (Carrier Safety Administartion) scores will be viewed by shippers, brokers, and third party logistics companies as less desirable — especially since they may be held accountable for damages. Sarah O’Niel from Road Science shares examples and explains, “There was a time when liability for CMV related (Commercial Motor Vehicles) accidents was limited to the driver and carrier. Shippers, third party logistics companies and brokers were insulated. No longer. Vicarious liability in trucking is now opening the door to big claims against companies with deep pockets, and it’s changing the relationship between shippers, 3PLCs, brokers and carriers in a big way.”

Are you a driver, carrier, or third party logistics company? We’d like to hear your point of view. How will the new HOS regulations affect your business?