On 9/29/20, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) final rule updating Hours of Service (HOS) regulations takes effect for normal, nonexempt operation. The key provisions include:

  • Extend on-duty time by 2-hours for adverse weather;
  • Extend the “short haul” exception from 100 air-mile radius to 150 miles and increase allowable drive time from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours;
  • Allow drivers to split the required 10 hours off-duty time into two periods: one period of at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper birth or a period of not less than 2 consecutive hours either off-duty or in the sleeper berth;
  • Allow one off-duty break of between 30 minutes and 3 hours that would pause the 14-hour driving window as long as the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the shift.

The final rule may be found here: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/2020-05/HOS%20Master%20050120%20clean.pdf.

On 9/4/20, the FMCSA announced a new pilot program allowing drivers between 18 and 20-years-old to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce. Currently, 49 states and the District of Columbia allow 18 to 20-year-olds to operate CMVS within state borders. The FMCSA previously sought comments for a similar program on 5/15/2019.

On 8/28/20, the FMCSA announced that it will seek public comments on a three-year pilot program to make more flexible the 14-hour driving window. The Split Duty Period Pilot Program seeks 200 to 400 drivers to study effects of pausing on-duty driving time with one off-duty period between 30 minutes and 3 hours. To qualify for the study, motor carriers must maintain a crash rate better than or equal to the national average and allow a video based on board monitoring system for each driver. Pausing the 14-hour restart was not included in the recent changes to HOS regulations that take effect 9/29/20.

On 7/13/20, the DOT released a warning that drivers use Cannabidiol (CBD) oil at their own risk due to potentially mislabeled products that contain higher-than-legal levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In December 2018, President Trump signed into law a measure that legalized hemp and CBD oil that contain 0.3% THC or less. Concentrations higher than 0.3% may result in positive a urine drug screen for marijuana, use of which is not permitted for any reason. A positive drug test is reported to the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse and remains on a driver’s record for 5 years. Drivers are then required to undergo substance abuse counseling and pass 7 observed drug tests over the following 12 months. CBD oil is widely marketed for treating anxiety, movement disorders, and joint pain.

On 7/13/20, an FMCSA advisory committee met to discuss regulation of small commercial trucks similar to the ubiquitous Sprinter-style Amazon delivery vans, which weigh less than 10,000 pounds. Currently, the FMCSA does not regulate commercial vehicles in the weight class from 6,001 to 10,000 pounds. In order to determine the need for regulation, the committee has pledged to conduct studies of injury, fatality, and property-damage only accidents involving these vehicles, regardless of fault; to identify 9 companies and learn their best practices for driver recruitment and safety training; to obtain data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Transportation Safety Board, and state transportation officials regarding workplace accidents and injuries involving these vehicles; and to monitor application for new Department of Transportation (DOT) numbers for vehicles in this weight class.

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Allen Smith
Charlotte, NC
(704) 319-5449

This publication is not intended to be all-encompassing and does not cover all situations and exceptions to general rules. To discuss the applicability or interpretation of any provision of the law to a specific situation, please contact an attorney at Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo, LLP.