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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) new hours of service (HOS) rule — designed to give commercial drivers greater flexibility without adversely affecting safety — goes into effect on September 29.

The final rule, which was published in June, includes four key changes to existing HOS regulations, which dictate how long professional drivers can work before taking required off-duty time:

  • Short-Haul Exception – The short-haul exception maximum allowable workday is changing from 12 to 14 hours, and the distance the driver may operate is extending from a 100 air-mile radius to a 150 air-mile radius.

  • Adverse Driving Conditions Exception – The adverse driving conditions exception is extending the duty day by 2 hours when adverse driving conditions (conditions that were not known or reasonably known to the driver or motor carrier) are encountered. This is in addition to the extra 2 hours of driving time already allowed. This change applies for both property (14-hour driving window) and passenger (15-hour on-duty limit) motor carriers.

  • 30-Minute Break Requirement – The 30-minute break requirement can now be satisfied by an on-duty, not driving break (in addition to an off-duty break). The requirement for property-carrying drivers is applicable in situations where a driver has driven for a period of 8 hours without at least a 30-minute interruption.

  • Sleeper Berth Provision – The sleeper berth provision allows drivers to split their 10-hour off-duty period in different ways (e.g., 7/3, 8/2, 7.5/2.5), provided one off-duty period (whether in or out of the sleeper berth) is at least 2 hours long, and the other involves at least 7 consecutive hours spent in the sleeper berth. The periods must add up to 10 hours, and when used together, neither time period counts against the maximum 14-hour driving window.

For more information on the new HOS final rule, visit: