August 29, 2019

FMCSA Discloses Proposed Changes to Hours-of-Service Rules


On Wednesday, August 14, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released five proposals intended to increase roadway safety and ease driving rules for truckers.

The five key revisions are:

  • 30-minute break
    Increase safety and flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by tying the break requirement to eight hours of driving time without an interruption for at least 30 minutes, and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on duty, not driving status, rather than off duty. 
  • Split sleeper berth
    Modify the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: one period of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than two consecutive hours, either off duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither period would count against the driver’s 14‑hour driving window.

  • Off-duty break
    Allow one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than three hours, that would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour driving window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift. 

  • Adverse driving conditions
    Modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.

  • Short-haul exception
    Change to the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on‑duty period from 12 to 14-hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

The public comment period will be open for 45 days. Instructions on how to submit comments can be found here.

If these proposed changes go into effect, Thermo King’s TriPac® Evolution Diesel and TriPac Envidia® All-Electric APUs will become an even more powerful tool to strengthen your fleet. A drivers’ total rest duration would be shorter and more frequent. An APU could save you money because it would not be necessary to idle the truck when the driver is taking a mandatory break. Reduced tractor idling also has the added benefit of offering lower runtime and maintenance costs.

In addition to lower costs, APUs can increase driver comfort, which could lead to retention. Drivers spend long days away from home on the road, and a comfortable sleeper is important for well-rested and safe drivers. The APU brings the comfort of home to wherever home is for the driver whether it’s for a short break or overnight stay.

ThermoLite® solar panels will also be beneficial since more frequent driver stops and increased APU usage may lead to low batteries. Solar panels help lower operational costs by reducing diesel APU run time by 20 to 30% and extend battery life to five or more years. With APUs, solar offsets daytime heat loads, helps maintain peak performance, and provides a full battery bank even in low light conditions

According to the FMCSA, the trucking industry employs more than seven million people and moves 70 percent of the nation’s domestic freight. These proposed rules on hours of service regulations could provide $274 million in savings for the U.S. economy and American consumers. Why not use Thermo King products to help increase savings to your business.