DOT Announces New Hours-of-Service Rules

For the first time since 1939, the trucking industry has new hours-of-service rules. Hours-of-service rules govern drivers transporting freight in interstate commerce with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more, and operating vehicles transporting hazardous materials in quantities requiring vehicle placards.

The new hours-of-service rules announced April 24, 2003 by the Department of Transportation will allow truckers one more hour of driving, but cut the number of hours they may work overall by one hour. In addition, it requires truckers to take two more hours off before resuming work.

The regulation includes the following provisions:

  • 11 hours of driving time following 10 consecutive hours off duty.

  • No driving after 14 hours of on-duty time ( a combination of driving and all other on-duty time)
    The 60 hour/7 day and 70 hour/8 day limit remains unchanged, but now includes a provision that allows a driver to restart the 60 or 70 hour clock after having at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.

    The regulation also includes a new exception for drivers who regularly return to their normal work reporting location. Under this exception, a driver is allowed to accumulate 11 hours of driving time within 16 consecutive hours on duty once every seven (7) days, provided:

  • The driver return to the work reporting location on that day, and is released from duty at that work reporting location for the previous five (%) on-duty days

  • The driver is released from duty within 16 hours after coming on duty (no additional on-duty time after 16 hours)

  • The driver only uses this exception/exemption once every seven (7) consecutive days (unless the driver has complied with the 34-hour voluntary restart provision
    The split sleeper berth portion of the regulations remains the same, but instead of accumulating eight hours in the sleeper berth in two periods, the driver would have to accumulate 10 hours in the sleeper berth in two periods.

    The requirements for passenger-carrying vehicles remain the same as the current requirements:

  • 10 hours of driving time following 8 consecutive hours off duty

  • No driving after 15 hours of on-duty time following 8 consecutive hours off duty
    The 60 hour/7 day and 70 hour/8 day limits remain unchanged. A reset provision for drivers of passenger-carrying vehicles is not included in the new regulations.

    The new requirements were officially published in the Monday, April 28, 2003 Federal Register. Compliance with the new requirements is mandated on January 4, 2004. FMCSA is not allowing early compliance with the new regulations. Until January 4, 2004, drivers and motor carriers must comply with the standards currently in place.

    The rules for a driver's daily log remain unchanged.

    It is estimated that the new rule will save up to 75 lives and prevent as many as 1,326 fatigue-related crashed annually. The rule is easy to understand, easy to comply with and easy to enforce.

    You can pickup your own personal Current Rule Comparison Chart at the NTA California Information Center, 6825 E Rosecrans Ave, Paramount, CA 90723.

Written By: Wayne Schooling