September 30, 2020
Transport Topics --- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has launched an online tool to help carriers and drivers better understand the hours-of-service regulations that took effect September 29.
The Educational Tool for Hours of Service (ETHOS) allows users to enter their duty statuses into a log and identifies potential violations. The final rule, announced by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and FMCSA’s former acting Administrator Jim Mullen, included four revisions that pertain to issues truckers have voiced concerns about, such as the 30-minute rest break and splitting up time in the sleeper berth. The changes included in the final rule were designed to increase flexibility for truckers.
“September 29 is an important day for our nation’s commercial drivers — the start of the revised hours-of-service rules providing greater flexibility to drivers and carriers without impacting safety,” FMCSA Deputy Administrator Wiley Deck said. “Our team has worked hard preparing for this launch. [ETHOS] is a prime example of that effort. It’s simple, scenario-based system is user-friendly and very helpful, particularly given the uniqueness of runs and driver situations.”
Specifically, ETHOS is designed to identify potential violation of rules related to the 11-hour driving limit, the 14-hour driving window, the 30-minute rest break and the sleeper berth provision.
Through the resource, a person can enter an event date, time, and type, such as “driving” or “off-duty.” He or she also may select a pre-populated example related to the revised 30-minute rest break rule or the revised sleeper berth provision. With information from the entry, ETHOS provides a Record of Duty Status that reflects intervals of time spent driving, on duty, off duty and in the sleeper berth. Potential violations — and the date and time which they occurred — also are listed.
Visualization can help people understand HOS rules. With ETHOS, drivers, safety directors and dispatchers can create a “mock duty day” which may be useful if they’re accustomed to looking at electronic logging devices or logbooks every day.
That’s often a very easy way to understand the hours-of-service rules as compared to providing a driver with regulatory text and saying, “Here’s what you can and cannot do.” When you take that regulatory text and put it in the context of an actual logbook for that driver’s day, it’s a lot easier to understand, it’s a lot easier to train and that way, everyone’s on a same page. Having an example of something that drivers and safety directors are using on a daily basis is going to be much more beneficial to the industry in understanding it.
According to the ETHOS webpage, the tool identifies only potential violations and should not be relied on to monitor HOS compliance. Additionally, the page notes that FMCSA does not retain data entered in the application.