New Federal Trucking Regulations

Several new federal trucking regulations have just been announced. This is known as the Hours of Service (HOS) final rule, published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). There are five major changes, taking effect in July 2013 or February 27th of this year (1). FMCSA also banned the use of hand-held cellular phones beginning in 2012 (3

The changes taking effect in February help determine on duty time, the penalties for violating driving time regulations, and waiting times for oilfield drivers. With these new regulations on duty time is not recorded for any time resting in a parked truck, and doesn’t include up to 2 hours before or after 8 hours sleeping in a truck if riding in the passenger seat (1).

Egregious violations of the HOS final rule are now clearly defined by FMCSA to be driving 3 or more hours over the time limit of 11 hours per day (1). This also applies to driving over 60 hours in 7 days if the driver doesn’t drive a commercial vehicle every day, or 70 hours in 8 days if the driver drives every day (1).  If an egregious violation is committed the trucking company is subject to the maximum civil penalty of $11,000 and the driver is subject to a fine of $2,750 (2). This ruling on egregious violations applies to drivers with and without passengers.

Waiting times for oilfield drivers must now be clearly logged, whereas before there was no required method of record keeping. Waiting times should now be “identified by annotations in “remarks” or a separate line added to grid.” (1).

The new regulations going into effect July 1st 2013 concern mandatory breaks while driving, and “34-hour restarts”. While drivers are limited to 11 hours of driving per day, they can now only drive if it has been less than 8 hours since their last break of 30 minutes or more (1). This ensures that drivers go no more than a standard workday without rest of some sort. A 34-hour restart is used to effectively “restart” the driving time limit of 60 or 70 hours per week by taking a full 34 hours off. A 34-hour restart can now only be used once per week, and must include 2 periods from 1AM-5AM home terminal times (1). This ensures that drivers get some sleep during the periods that their body needs it most.

Finally, it should be noted that intrastate regulations for the state of Arkansas mirror those of the federal government exactly, with two exceptions. First, commercial drivers may be 18+ within Arkansas, instead of 21+ (4). Second, HOS regulations do NOT apply to farm supplies or commodities being moved within 100miles of their source during planting or harvesting season (4).