FMCSA Adopts CDL Short-Haul Driver Hours Of Service Reforms

The U.S. DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued its long awaited CDL driver of hours of service (HOS) final rule last week that adopts a number of PMAA’s requests for short-haul driver regulatory relief reform.

PMAA initiated the short-haul driver reform effort in 2017 during a meeting with the FMCSA Administrator and his top staff to present regulatory relief proposals important to both motor fuel and heating fuel dealers.

Since then, PMAA has worked closely with the FMCSA, the FMCSA Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, the White House Office of Management and Budget as well as key members of Congress providing supporting data, writing comments and arranging meetings in order to win adoption of these important hours of service reforms.

The short-haul driver reforms will become effective 120 days after publication of the final rule in the Federal Register which is expected to happen within the next 10 days.

The final rule adopted the following PMAA reforms for short-haul drivers:

— Expands the maximum distance short-haul drivers may travel each day without losing their regulatory exception from keeping daily HOS records from 100 air-miles per shift to 150 air-miles.

— Increases the maximum daily on-duty time for short haul drivers from 12 hours to 14 hours.

— Extends the maximum daily 11 hour driving window for drivers by two hours during adverse weather conditions and allows drivers (in addition to dispatchers) to determine if the weather conditions exist to trigger the extension.

The distance and time extension reforms are important for motor fuel marketers and heating fuel dealers because they provide short-haul drivers two additional hours of daily on-duty time and 50 additional air-miles of operating range without losing the exception from recording daily hours of service.

In addition, the reforms will allow many long-haul drivers employed in the industry that currently travel beyond the 100 air-mile radius from their point of origin but no longer than 150 miles to qualify for short-haul driver status.

This means those drivers will no longer be required to use electronic on-board recorders mandated by FMCSA to record HOS, saving their employers significant reoccurring compliance costs.

Instead, their HOS can now be demonstrated the same as all short-haul drivers – by timecards and/or other business records and only when requested by the DOT.

This will reduce the recordkeeping burden on motor fuel marketers and heating fuel dealers and provide them with more flexibility to schedule drivers while adding a significant number of weekly on-duty hours per company across all drivers.

The adverse weather extension of on-duty time is also important because it provides drivers with two additional hours to wait out hazardous driving conditions before resuming to drive.

Under previous adverse weather condition regulations, drivers were allowed two additional hours of driving time but no extra on-duty time.

As a result, drivers felt pressure to drive in poor conditions to not run out the daily maximum on-duty clock before they returned to their base of operations.

The final rule did not contain a provision that would allow up to three hours of wait time at terminals to be recorded as off-duty time due to opposition by safety groups. However, PMAA will continue to work for its adoption.

PMAA will provide additional information in an upcoming compliance bulletin.

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