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2013 Hours of Service Question & Answer — 

Q: When do the new Hours-of-Service rules take effect?

A: The new rules take effect on July 1, 2013. The ATA, CVSA, and some legislators have requested that the FMCSA delay the implementation until the court has made their decision, but at this point the July 1 date is still the effective date.

Q: Why is the FMCSA requiring drivers to take a 30-minute break under the new rules?

A: FMCSA research has found that any break from driving reduces crash risk in the hour following the break, but that off-duty breaks produce the largest reduction of risk. The studies state that taking a break reduces risk by 30 – 50 percent.

Q: Does the break have to be exactly 8 hours after coming on duty?

A: No, the rule gives drivers flexibility in when and where the break is allowed. The rule prohibits driving if more than 8 hours have passed since the last off-duty period. The rule allows drivers to take the break anytime, provided they do not drive after 8 hours on-duty, or on-duty driving, without a break. I usually caution drivers to be sure to not take the break too early into their shift, as that could cause them to have to take two 30-minute breaks during a 14-hour duty day.

Q: Does the break have to spent resting?

A: No, nothing in the rule states how the driver must spend their time during the 30-minute break. It only states that the driver must be off duty, or in the sleeper berth, for at least 30 minutes. The biggest thing to remember is that on-duty activities such as loading, unloading, fueling, etc. cannot be counted as a break.

Q: Does the break count against the 14-hour driving window?

A: Yes, a 30-minute break does not extend the 14-hour time limitation. The 14-hour rule was adopted to prevent drivers from driving while fatigued, and to better coordinate with a daily pattern, so the rule does not allow extending the 14-hour limitation.

Q: Are drivers who utilize the 100-mile and/or the non-CDL 150-mile exemptions required to take the 30-minute break?

A: Yes, drivers operating under these exemptions are still required to comply with the 30-minute break requirement. Since, under these exemptions, they are not completing a driver’s log there is no requirement that the break be recorded, but the requirement for the 30-minute break still applies to them as well. It is suggested that the break be recorded on their time records, but nothing in the regulations state such at this point.

Q: How will roadside inspectors enforce the provisions of the new 8-hour/30-minute break requirement during a roadside inspection? In other words, if a driver is found to be driving beyond the 8 hour limit without having taken a 30-minute break, will the driver be written up for a violation, will they be placed out of service for 30 minutes, will they be placed out of service for 10 hours, etc?

A: The FMCSA and CVSA have not yet announced how they will enforce a violation of this rule. We are hopeful that this will be resolved prior to July 1, otherwise it will be left up to the officer and state enforcement departments. That will be a serious issue because we will experience a lack of consistency of enforcement across the country.

Q: Which drivers will be most affected by the new 34-hour rule, which requires two period of 1:00 to 5:00 am?

A: The rule will affect a majority of drivers, but those most affected will be drivers who drive primarily during the night and/or work more than 60/70 hours.

Q: Is use of the 34-hour restart mandatory?

A: No, using the restart is optional and up to the company. If a driver or company does not utilize the restart option they are required to maintain an on-going recap of the previous 60/70 hours.