Trump Administration Looks to Relax Federal Truck Drive-Time Rules; We Need Your Input

August 15, 2019

The Trump Administration last week unveiled proposed changes to relax the federal “hours of service” rule, which governs the amount of time truck drivers can spend behind the wheel. The Michigan Chamber is currently reviewing the proposal and is seeking input from members. 

According to a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) press release, the proposal consists of five changes to the “hours of service” rule for commercial motor vehicle drivers:

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

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said the proposal “seeks to enhance safety by giving America's commercial drivers more flexibility while maintaining the safety limits on driving time.” 

Although some highway safety advocates have voiced concerns that the proposed rule changes could leave truck drivers exhausted on the road, FMCSA head Raymond Martinez said the FMCSA “listened directly to the concerns of drivers for rules that are safer and have more flexibility.” 

We want to hear from you! Would these changes be helpful to your business? Based on the response we receive, the Michigan Chamber will consider submitting comments to the FMCSA within the next 45 days. 

Please contact Wendy Block with any comments or questions at wblock@michamber.com.