Department of Transportation Revises Trucking Rules, Allowing Longer Workday

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September 11, 2020

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The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) published a final rule updating the hours of service rules for commercial vehicle drivers.  Originally adopted in 1937, the hours of service rules specify how long commercial drivers are permitted to operate a vehicle.  A proposed rule was first published in August in 2019, and the final rule issued on May 14, 2020 contains four key changes:

  1. Expands the short-haul exception to 150 air miles (up from 100 air miles previously) and allows a maximum of a 14-hour work shift (up from 12 hours previously). The overall limit of 11 hours of driving time remains unchanged, but the expansion to overall workday would allow more time for stops such as deliveries.
  2. Expands the maximum driving window during adverse driving conditions by an additional two hours.
  3. Allows long-haul drivers to take the mandated 30-minute break after eight consecutive hours of driving time (instead of on-duty time). A driver may satisfy the 30-minute break period by spending the time off-duty, on-duty (not driving), or in the sleeper berth, or any combination of these non-driving statuses.
  4. Modifies the sleeper berth exception to allow a driver to meet the 10-hour minimum off-duty requirement by spending seven hours (down from eight hours previously) in the berth plus a minimum off-duty period of at least two hours in or outside the berth, provided both periods total at least 10 hours.

Note that these updated rules do not necessarily impact the pending case before the Ninth Circuit that will decide whether the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Hours of Service rules apply to meal and rest periods for DOT drivers in California, or if California’s more strict rules will apply. The Ninth Circuit is expected to issue a ruling later this year.

Action Items

  1. View the Hours of Service Drivers Final Rule in full here.
  2. Review scheduling and meal periods in light of these changes.
  3. Review federal and state meal and rest requirements with legal counsel for California employees.
  4. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2020 ManagEase

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