Back in 2017, there was a mandate that required drivers to track their hours of service in an attempt to better regulate the health and safety of truckers on the road. Part of this mandate included electronic logging devices or ELDs, which track driver behavior and hours spent on the road. Although this initiative has been successful in its goal, it has resulted in limited driver flexibility and longer transit times for freight shipments. Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) updated this mandate of the hours of service. Here are the hours of service updates you need to know that could impact you when you’re shipping freight.
Why HOS Changes Were Necessary
2020 has tested the global supply chain to a great extent. The COVID-19 pandemic led to capacity shortages, shipping limitations, and an increase in eCommerce and online shopping. Much of the U.S. and global economy has leaned back on truckers and logistics to stay afloat and keep shelves stocked. Essential supplies had to move fast, and this demand far exceeded the need for electronic logging devices (ELDs,) limiting what drivers can do.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) had been working on editing the ELD mandate from 2017 for a few years, but finally updated the hours of services (HOS) regulations which went into effect September 29, 2020. This results in more driver flexibility while on the road, which helps keeps shipments moving more smoothly and efficiently.
What HOS Updates Were Made?
Here are the key updates to the HOS:
- Flexible 30-minute breaks. Drivers can now take a 30-minute break during their 8-hour driving times through an “on-duty, not-driving” status rather than an “off-duty” status.
- Sleeper berth provision. Drivers have two options for splitting their 10 off-duty hours. 8 hours in the sleeper berth and 2 hours off-duty, or 7 hours in the sleeper berth and 3 hours off-duty.
- Adverse driving conditions exception. Drivers had been allowed to drive up to two additional hours while facing dangerous road conditions like snow or flooding. This exception has been increased by two hours, maximizing driver safety.
- Short-haul exception. This extends the short-haul exception to 150 air-miles and allows a 14-hour work shift that may occur as part of the exception.
The FMCSA has also developed an online tool called the Educational Tool for Hours of Service (ETHOS). This new online tool will help educate drivers and carriers about the HOS and how to ensure they remain compliant. Drivers and carriers can enter their duty statuses into the web-based log, and ETHOS will help identify where potential violations of the following HOS rules may have occurred:
- 11-hour driving limit (property) or 10-hour driving limit (passenger)
- 14-hour driving window (property) or 15-hour on-duty limit (passenger)
- 30-minute break (property)
- Sleeper berth provision\
What Does All This Mean to You?
Of course, these changes were brought about with driver safety and flexibility in mind, and freight carriers themselves don’t have to do much at all when it comes to adapting to these regulatory changes. But what does it mean for shippers like you? The increased flexibility for drivers translates into an easier, more efficient shipping process altogether.
These HOS updates loosen up a tight freight capacity market, making more drivers available for longer periods of time. This means more shipments can get to where they need to go without shippers having to worry about capacity shortages.
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