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New HOS Rule Keeps 11-Hour Driving Limits; Changes Re-Start Provisions

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued its final hours-of-service (HOS) rule, decreasing a driver’s allowable work week and altering the restart provision.


The new rule retains the current 11-hour daily driving limit, but reduces by 12 hours the average maximum number of hours a truck driver can work within a week, dropping it down to 70 hours of work in seven days from 82.

It also changes the restart provisions for drivers who maximize their weekly hours. Under the new rule, the existing 34-hour rest period required before drivers start a new workweek must include two rest times between 1 and 5 a.m. The final rule allows drivers to use the restart provision only once during a seven-day period.

The new rule also states that truck drivers cannot drive after working eight hours without first taking a break of at least 30 minutes. Drivers can take the 30-minute break whenever they need rest during the eight-hour window.

The bulk of the rule will take effect on July 1, 2013. This HOS rule came after an eight-year legal battle that started in 2003 when the FMCSA increased the legal amount of drive time to 11 hours from 10.

While the bulk of the provisions take effect in 2013, there are some that begin sooner. Beginning on February 27, the time drivers spend in the cab of a parked or moving truck is not considered on-duty time if the driver is not behind the wheel. Until then, any time in the truck, except when the driver is in the sleeper-berth, is counted as part of a driver’s on-duty hours.

Stricter fines will also take effect in February. The Department of Transportation said companies and drivers that commit egregious violations of the rule could face the maximum penalties for each offense. Trucking companies that allow drivers to exceed the 11-hour driving limit by three or more hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.

To view the full rule, visit the FMCSA website.

By “Move Ahead” Staff