The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has released a proposed rule amending the hours of service requirements for drivers of property-carrying commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). As discussed in a news release, the proposal would keep the “34-hour restart” provision allowing drivers to restart the clock on their weekly 60 or 70 hours by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty, but that period would have to include two consecutive off-duty periods from midnight to 6:00 a.m. Drivers would be allowed to use this restart only once during a seven-day period.
Other main changes include the following:
- The proposal would limit CMV drivers to either 10 or 11 hours of driving time following a period of at least 10 consecutive hours off duty. The FMCSA currently favors a 10-hour limit, although it will consider comments in formulating the final rule;
- Commercial truck drivers would be required to complete all driving within a 14-hour workday, with the option of extending their daily shift to 16 hours twice a week to accommodate situations such as loading and unloading at terminals or ports, and allowing drivers to count some time spent parked in their trucks toward off-duty hours;
- Drivers would be required to complete all on-duty work-related activities within 13 hours to allow for at least a one hour break;
- Drivers would be permitted to drive only if 7 hours or less have passed since their last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes;
- The oilfield operations exception would be revised to clarify the language on waiting time and to state that waiting time would not be included in the calculation of the driving window.
Trucking companies found to have allowed their drivers to violate the proposal's driving limits would face penalties of up to $11,000 for each offense; commercial truck drivers would face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.
Comments on this proposed rule are due within 60 days of its publication in the Federal Register, which is scheduled for December 29, 2010. All comments must contain the docket number FMCSA-2004-19608 or regulatory identification number (RIN) 2126-AB26. Comments may be submitted electronically through the federal eRulemaking Portal, via facsimile: 202-493-2251, or by mail or hand-delivery to: Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20590-0001.