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U.S. Transportation Department Proposes Relaxing Driver Hours-of-Service Rules

    Client Alerts
  • August 26, 2019

In response to complaints from the trucking industry, on August 14 the federal Department of Transportation proposed new rules that would give drivers and motor carriers significantly more flexibility in scheduling driving and rest hours. Under the current regulations, commercial motor vehicle drivers are limited to driving 11 hours during a 14-hour shift, and only after they have had a 10-hour rest break.

The proposed rules would make several changes to these time limits:

  1. Drivers could take one rest break between 30 minutes and three hours during their shift that would not count toward the overall 14-hour working time window, if they take the mandated 10-hour break at the end of the working day.
  2. The current mandatory 30-minute rest break would only apply if the employee has been driving for eight consecutive hours.
  3. The maximum duty allowed under the exemption for short-haul drivers would be extended from 12 to 14 hours.
  4. Drivers could drive up to 13 (instead of 11) hours if they encounter adverse driving conditions. 
  5. Tandem drivers would have greater flexibility to use sleeper berths to meet the 10-hour break requirement.

DOT is accepting comments on the new rules for 45 days. Any final regulations may face legal challenges from traffic safety organizations.