HOS (hours of service) regulations have often been a burr under truckers’ saddles, and not because they want to drive until they’re exhausted. There are many circumstances in which a driver might want to drive a few hours at a time and fulfill their rest requirements the same way. Weather, traffic and other circumstances beyond their control would be easier to deal with if there were more flexible regulations regarding HOS.
The final version of the Hours of Service of Drivers was entered in the Federal Register in late December, 2011 with an effective date of February 27, 2012. You’ll notice some changes that allow to you juggle your hours for more effective time management if you choose while still getting enough rest to drive safely.
Prior to December, 2011 there were no limitations on minimum 34 hour restarts. This changes and mandates that 2 periods between 1am-5am must be home terminal time and your may restart only once per week.
Rest breaks were not regulated under the old rules but now you can only drive if you go off-duty at least 30 minutes every 8 hours. In other words, if you stopped for supper at 6PM and got on the road at 7PM (yeah, that was a long supper!) you don’t have to stop until 3AM unless it conflicts with your mandatory resting period.
On-duty time used to include any time you were in your vehicle, excluding time in the sleeper berth. The new rules make an exception to time spent in your parked vehicle. This means that you can spend an hour or so in your truck talking on the phone, catching up on paperwork or just enjoying a good book without being on duty. Sometimes your truck is the only place you can get some peace and quiet!
There were no specific definitions of “egregious” violations of the HOS rules previously, but now they are defined as driving or allowing a trucker to drive three hours or more past their driving time limit. In doing so you may be in danger of receiving the maximum civil penalty for the offense.
Oilfield drivers are given a new set of rules to adhere to also. Previously waiting time had to be recorded and made available but no details or definite rules of recording were specified. Now the waiting time has to be entered in the logbook or an electronic log as your being off duty. You must identify that waiting time by noting it in “remarks” or a separate line added to “grid”.
There used to be a driving limit of 11 hours after 10 hours off-duty. That has been changed to 10 hours after 8 hours off-duty, allowing a bit more flexibility in planning your runs. The sleeper berth rules have also been changed; previously you had to spend at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth plus an additional 2 consecutive hours in the berth or off duty or a combination of the two. Now you can split your 8 hours in the sleeper berth into two periods of time if neither of them is less than 2 hours.
These are not huge changes but they do allow a driver some leeway to make his schedule according to circumstances while adhering to the HOS rules.