Drivers: rest breaks shouldn't count against the HOS clock

Washington, DC / USA - October 4, 2018: long-haul truckers have parked their rigs on the National Mall to protest what they believe is over-regulation of their industry by the federal government.  (Image: Shutterstock)

Washington, DC / USA - October 4, 2018: long-haul truckers have parked their rigs on the National Mall to protest what they believe is over-regulation of their industry by the federal government. (Image: Shutterstock)

The FMCSA has initiated the HOS change process. The comment period for this round ended on October 10. The agency is considering four possible areas of change: (1) the mandatory 30-minute rest break; (2) the split sleeper berth provision; (3) the short-haul operations exemption; and (4) the adverse driving conditions exception. 

In an effort to give our subscriber base input on the hot topic, we conducted a survey during the FMCSA open comment period. The FreightWaves Research Institute profiles industry issues for our subscribers, as well as gives companies a forum to discuss and disseminate ideas of their own. With an emphasis on research and education, the Research Institute creates a platform for deeper dives into industry issues. The Research Institute also functions as an amplifier for organizations through awards, surveys, education, and training opportunities.

Our survey created a slightly more expanded set of provisions than what FMCSA is considering: (1) allow rest breaks to stop the 14-hour clock; (2) drop the 30-minute rest break requirement; (3) expand total service of hours to 15 hours with 12 hours of driving, still keep a 30-minute break; (4) allow teams to split their 10-hour break into a 5/5 combination versus 8/2; (5) expand the 100 air-mile radius to 150 miles; and (6) Other.

The results strongly indicate that drivers want the practical solution of allowing rest breaks to simply stop the 14-hour clock. This was our strongest response. 68% indicated this was the most important to them. In second place, coming in at 52%, drivers want the 30-minute required rest break done away with completely. Nearly half also wanted a broad expansion of hours-of-service to 15 hours with 12 hours of driving, but still keeping a 30-minute break. The “Other” category of desired changes were filled in as split-sleeper for drivers, getting rid of the 14-hour clock altogether, and also, interestingly, “no changes at all.”

“There’s lots of activity here,” observes Steve Osiecki, president of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting firm (STC). “They seem to be serious about moving forward on this. HOS has become a political football. Each administration seems to come up with their own set of rules. This administration will try and take the ball across the goal line soon.” 

For a complete look at the breakdown of our results, check out our infographic here.