In case you didn’t notice, today is Monday, July 1 – the implementation date of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s latest hours-of-service rule.
There was no miraculous relief last week from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. That’s where the American Trucking Associations on March 15 had presented oral arguments against FMCSA’s latest version of the rule.
Granted, the court is under no deadline or timetable to issue its opinion in the case. But when it released its latest opinions Friday morning at about 10:20 a.m. ET without any mention whatsoever of the FMCSA, ATA or hours of service, it nonetheless had to be frustrating for the trucking association and all of the fleets it represents.
A last-ditch plea two weeks ago by trucking stakeholders representing fleets, owner-operators and the enforcement sector before a House subcommittee also appears to have fallen short. FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro appeared at the same subcommittee hearing to defend the rules and apparently made a strong-enough case to keep your elected officials from rushing a last-minute stay through the legislative process.
The rule technically has been effective since February of last year, but enforcement was scheduled to begin today, July 1. So have you set your clocks yet?
The most notable change to the hours rules are that drivers now are limited to one 34-hour restart per week, and every restart must include two 1-5 a.m. periods.
The amount of hours a driver can work in a week has been reduced from 82 to 70, and drivers must take a 30-minute break after eight on-duty hours. The rule does include, however, changes to what constitutes on-duty time so that drivers can count any time resting in a parked truck as off-duty.
The new rules include penalties for carriers that allow drivers to “egregiously” violate HOS rules, with “egregious” defined as allowing a driver to drive more than three hours beyond the limit.
That’s the latest hours rule in a nutshell. Meanwhile, the trucking industry is left counting the hours until it finds out if the D.C. appeals court has anything to say on the matter. Sadly, the court’s own hours of service aren’t as readily available for public viewing.