FMCSA Proposes HOS Changes on Breaks

Posted by Matt Manoli on Nov 26, 2019 9:30:00 AM

HOS

The FMCSA has just closed the commenting for changes they are considering in Hours of Service rules, particularly concerning breaks. The commentary period was meant to solicit opinions from drivers and transportation industry folks to see what those that the rules would affect in real life thought about the proposed changes. 

Below is a quick breakdown of some current HOS rules and how they could change under this proposal:

  • Currently drivers are limited to 11 hours of driving within a 14 hour on-duty window, and then are required to take 10 consecutive hours off-duty before driving again. Additionally, they cannot drive after working more than 8 hours without an off-duty rest break of at least 30-minutes.
  • Proposed changes would count 30 minutes of "non driving" time as a break, so for instance, if there was an accident, or roadwork, or traffic was horrendous and you pulled off the road, you could be on duty but not actively driving and have that be a break, versus having to go completely off duty. Another example would be 30 minutes spent loading or delivering product being counted as on-duty break time, so taking an additional 30 minute break would no longer be required.
  • An additional off-duty break of at least 30 minutes (but less than 3 hours) would pause the 14 hour window (so say you stopped an hour, you would essentially "gain" an hour on the other side because of the pause, so instead of having to clock out at 3pm it would bump to 4pm, etc) but this would only be in effect if you had a 10 hour reset (consecutive) following.
  • Short-haul truckers would also be allowed up to 14 hours on duty (from the current 12) and the mileage radius would expand to 150 miles (from 100). 

All of the above are meant to address some rigidity in the HOS rules as they are currently, where often road conditions, accidents, construction, or simply the timing of traffic adds up to essentially non-productive time for drivers and potentially causes people to push through versus taking breaks as needed. 

Having some flexibility in taking the 30 minute break, for example, could mean that instead of sitting in gridlock at 7am behind a major accident, you could pause 60 minutes then jump back on the road at 8am, when it cleared, without losing the hour on the other end - and without sitting at a standstill in traffic. (The fuel savings, and decreased aggravation of that option alone makes it seem appealing).

The idea with flexibility is to improve the efficiency and the experience for drivers, and allow them to make safety conscious decisions about when and how long they need to be taking breaks, without being too boxed in by HOS hard lines to get their work done. The goal being balance, where there is still rest and ample breaks, but the on-hours remain flexible enough to allow people to actually TAKE the breaks without worrying about scrambling to catch the time or distance up to hit deadlines.  

 

 

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Topics: fmcsa, HOS

Reminder - FMCSA Clearinghouse Mandatory Registration Deadline is January 6th

Posted by Matt Manoli on Nov 19, 2019 12:30:25 PM

Drug Testing

The FMCSA Clearinghouse deadline is January 6th, 2020, which believe it or not, is only a few weeks away. While CDL drivers do not technically need to register immediately, they will need to do so for mandatory employer pre-employment inquiries so it's better to just get it out of the way now.

The clearinghouse will be a comprehensive database with information on CDL holders' drug or alcohol violations, as well as information on whether that driver has completed required rehabilitation in order to return to work legally. The requirements are applied to ALL CDL drivers, from school bus drivers to interstate truckers. Violations will include any positive drug or alcohol test, DUI conviction, refusal to submit to testing, or acknowledgement of a substance abuse issue. 

Employers, medical review officers and third party administrators will be legally required to report drug or alcohol violations to the database. Employers will also be required to query the database to confirm new hires are eligible to work (no violations, or have completed required rehabilitation) and will also need to annually query to make sure current employees remain eligible to be a commercial driver. State licensing agencies (like the MA RMV) will also be required to query the system when reissuing CDL licenses. 

The goal of the database implementation is to ensure that CDL holders who have drug or alcohol violations are removed from the road until they have fulfilled steps to show they are a safe operator again.

This past summer the State of Massachusetts had an extremely tragic example of what can happen when CDL license holders are not properly vetted by licensing agencies and/or employers in regard to their drug or alcohol violations when a multiple violator killed 7 motorcyclists in New Hampshire while under the influence. Comprehensive, multi-agency efforts like the FMCSA Clearinghouse are put in place to make sure the proper checks are in place to get unsafe drivers off the road, and try to reduce the likelihood another incident like the one in New Hampshire happens again.     

 

The DOT has a great powerpoint presentation that runs through some of the major points regarding the Clearinghouse that you can access here: Final Rule: Commercial Driver's License Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse

You can also access the full rule text here: Commercial Driver's Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

 

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Topics: Safety, CDL Regulations Massachusetts, Driver Safety, fmcsa

Reminder: Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Deadline is December 16th

Posted by Matt Manoli on Nov 8, 2019 3:29:43 PM

ELog

Friendly reminder that December 16th 2019 is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) hard deadline for the Electronic Logging Device Mandate. There have been some "soft" deadlines and delays on this mandate over the last several years but there is no indication we will see another delay, so if your fleet is not fully converted to ELD, definitely get moving on that ASAP.  

We have personally been running E Logs for almost a decade, it made sense for our fleet and our footprint and we like the accuracy and uniformity of the data we get from our system. I will say there is definitely a learning curve involved in making a change over of any kind though, especially one involving software.  But this particular change actually does really make life easier in the big picture when it comes to making sure you are in HOS compliance, and in terms of pulling information for any kind of audit or certification, etc. 

Anyway - if you haven't moved your fleet to ELDs, the time is now. Don't wait til you are fined to get compliant. Good luck! 

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Topics: Safety, elogs, fmcsa