Short-haul Truckers and HOS 30 Minute Break Rule: FMCSA Issues Guidance for Short-Haul Drivers Who Exceed Time or Distance HOS Rule Limits

Short-haul Truckers and HOS 30 Minute Break Rule: FMCSA Issues Guidance for Short-Haul Drivers Who Exceed Time or Distance HOS Rule Limits

In January 2014, commercial truck drivers in the United States are required to follow the new Hours of Service (HOS) laws established by the federal government and enforced through regulations set up by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The Hours of Service Rule for U.S. Commercial Truck Drivers (Truckers’ HOS Regulations in 2014)

Anyone behind the wheel of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) must meet federal Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations established by the federal government to apply to any truck driver on an American road today.

We have monitored the passage of these new laws and their corresponding regulations here as well as the litigation that was filed by the trucking industry regarding these regulations and how they might detrimentally impact the U.S. trucking industry.

Today, anyone you see on the road in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, or elsewhere in the United States must abide by the HOS requirements if they are driving a vehicle that is:

  • used as part of a business
  • is involved in interstate commerce
  • and fits any of these descriptions:
  1. Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  2. Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  3. Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  4. Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  5. Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards.

Short Haul Truck Drivers Don’t Have to Follow the 30 Minute Break HOS Rule If They Meet Certain Criteria

However, not all truck drivers are the same. Some truckers drive for long distances, or for long-hauls, and other commercial truck drivers carry cargo for shorter distances. Under federal law, short-haul truck drivers are not required to follow the HOS regulations that mandate the trucker take a 30 minute break after he or she has been on-duty for 8 hours straight.

So what makes a “short-haul trucker eligible for this exception to the 30 minute break rule?

  1. Short haul drivers do not have to take the 30 minute break after being on the job for 8 straight hours if they are going to be operating that truck for a maximum of 12 (twelve) straight hours per day of duty; and
  2. They are driving within a geographic distance of 100 air miles.
  3. If the short-haul driver is working on the job but doesn’t need to have a commercial truck driver’s license to drive the truck, then they are exempt if they are limited in their driving area to an area of 150 air miles.

What Happens if the Short Haul Driver Exceeds the Time or Distance Limits Here?

FMCSA is recognizing in its new release that there are times when commercial short-haul drivers are going to go over that time limit or drive past that air mile cap – so what happens then?

According to FMCSA, these short-haulers are not going to be found to be in violation of the HOS Rules for a 30 Minute Break if they will go ahead and take their break a.s.a.p. (at the “earliest safe opportunity”) after they’ve gone over the limitations, and if they record in their logbook why they didn’t take a 30 minute break at the standard required time.

HOS Regulations Designed to Fight Truck Driver Accidents and Traffic Fatalities Involving Crashes With Big Rig Semi Tractor Trailer Type Trucks

These regulations are designed to force the truck driver to stop and rest for a period of time, by making the driver abide by federal law and insisting that trucking companies respect that the driver must take the breaks as mandated by these federal standards. Workers cannot be penalized for meeting the new HOS Rules; trucking companies must adapt to having their drivers taking these 30 minute breaks to refresh themselves as they move cargo and freight across the country.

However, truck drivers may not always meet those HOS Rules, and here the federal government is issuing guidance for truck drivers who aren’t on the road for days at a time; here, the short haul should be able to rest more than his or her long haul colleagues.

Let’s hope that these rest breaks do their intended job: keeping truck drivers safer on the roads, and the number of traffic accidents involving people dying from crashes with these huge and heavy vehicles as low as possible.


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