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Hours-of-service changes coming, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao confirms

 Changes are coming to the hours-of-service rules to give drivers more flexibility, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced. ( Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves )
Changes are coming to the hours-of-service rules to give drivers more flexibility, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced. ( Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves )

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced that the Department of Transportation has sent an hours of service (HOS) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval. Chao did not state the timetable before the rule is published in the Federal Register, but OMB has in the past moved proposed rules within days. Given the importance of this rule, a quick approval from OMB is likely.

“At last year’s Mid-America Trucking Show, you told the Department you wanted flexibility … and the Department listened, Chao said before a packed audience in a seminar room at this year’s Mid-America in Louisville, Kentucky. “We asked for your participating, and you participated, with over five thousand, two hundred comments.

“The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was just sent to the Office of Management and Budget,” Chao added, to applause. “I can’t give you specifics because it is still in the rules stage, but I can tell you the Department understands the importance of giving you the flexibility [to do your jobs].”

Last August, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration put forth an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to give the public a chance to comment on current hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. The ANPRM sought public input on several potential revisions to HOS rules, including:

  • Whether to expand the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty, in order to be consistent with the rules for long-haul truck drivers;

  • Whether to extend the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions;

  •  Whether to revise the mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after 8-hours of continuous driving; and

  • Whether to reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks that are equipped with a sleeper-berth compartment.

In addition, the ANPRM seeks public comment and relevant data on two recently submitted petitions requesting regulatory relief from HOS rules (1) pertaining to the 14-hour on-duty limitation (filed by the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association) and (2) pertaining to the 10-hour off-duty requirement (filed by TruckerNation).

OOIDA has been pushing for changes to the regulations for more flexibility. Since the hard enforcement date of April 1, 2018, for electronic logging devices (ELD), the rigid nature of HOS rules – specifically the 14-hour clock – have become a more noticeable problem for many.

Chao also said DOT will seek to make the Crash Preventability Demonstration program, which began in 2017 and ends on July 30, 2019, permanent.

“The Department will propose to make this demonstration program permanent,” she said. “The Department will also look to add additional [scenarios].”

The program seeks to assign proper blame for accidents, giving carriers and drivers the opportunity to have a crash removed from their record if the driver was not at fault.



  1. Scotty

    Stricter rules are not needed. They need to loosen some of the rules to make it better for the drivers. Also they need to make it harder to pass the cdl test as they just let anyone in now a days and that’s why there is so many problems with big trucks on the road. They are not getting the proper training that they need in these schools.

  2. Allen B.

    I work for one of the country’s major carriers, rimes w/Fed, 10x to Tucson out of So Cal @ month. Expanding weekly hour limits from 14 a day to 16 would be great! It’s needed badly, $5,000 to tow out of hours driver from a major accident scene, a traffic parking lot, driver watching his available hours go to 0 sitting at accident site on the freeway, 20 miles from his domicile! Allen B., Dana Point, Ca.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected].