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Looking Both Ways

The New Hours of Service Regulations

By John Mueller, CDS, COSS
Posted May 29th 2013 5:58AM



premium_group_logo_2.jpgThis post of Look Both Ways will educate you about the upcoming changes to the Hours of Service Regulations that become effective July 1, 2013.


Two primary changes are included in the revised regulations – a mandatory 30 minute break and also changes to the 34 hour reset.   This blog will focus on the 30 minute break.   The 34 hour reset will be broken down for you in the next blog or two.


Curious why Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is again making changes to the regulations?    Please believe that FMCSA is concerned with the well-being of Professional truck drivers, as well as protecting the general public. These rule changes combined are expected to reduce driver’s average maximum allowable hours of work per week from 82 hours to 70 hours - a reduction of 15%.   Hopefully this reduction in work hours will reduce fatigue related crashes and also benefit the long term health of drivers.   Working even 70 hours a week is working your life away.   Drivers, seriously, you deserve a life and a break!


FMCSA research showed that any break from driving reduces risk in the hour immediately following the break.   Off-duty breaks produced the largest reduction in safety critical events.   Yes, safety critical events are just what they sound like.   The research showed benefits of breaks from driving ranged from a 30 percent to a 50 percent reduction in risk with the greatest benefit occurring for off-duty (non-working) breaks.   


Let’s look at this new mandatory 30 minute break provision.   Under this new rule you are required to take a 30 minute break within the first eight hours of coming on duty.   Also, you may drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of your last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes.   This break must be taken as off-duty time.  Like the all of the hours rules - the 11, 14 and 70, you can be on-duty forever after the 8 hours without a break – you just can’t drive.   You must have a 30 minute break of off-duty time after 8 hours of on-duty time before you can drive again.   This required break does count against your 14 hour driving rule.




What counts and what doesn’t count towards a 30 minute break?

·         Any sleeper berth period of 30 minutes or longer will obviously count as a 30 minute break.

·         The final rule that defined on-duty time was changed in February of 2012 to not include any time resting in a parked vehicle.   So resting in a parked vehicle may count towards your 30 minute break.   This could be playing a video game on your phone, but not doing paperwork for the company, like completing your logbook.

·         Fueling your truck is considered on-duty, so that will not count towards your 30 minute break.  

·         Waiting to be loaded or unloaded could be considered off-duty time if you are relieved of your responsibilities during that time.   Your perfect day could legally begin at 6am performing your daily pre trip inspection, start driving at 6:15am, arrive at the shipper at 1:55pm and take your 30 minute break from 2:00 pm to 2:30 am while they load your truck.   After properly securing your load and performing a security check of the vehicle, you would then continue driving your full 11 hours of drive time, provided you accomplish those 11 hours before 8pm.   This scenario happens only in the perfect world.

·         Stopping to eat a meal at a rest area, the truck stop or restaurant counts.   Make sure to use at least 30 minutes.

·         Stopping to shop counts.   You could still find some time efficiencies using your break as off duty time to purchase the week’s groceries for the truck.

·         Truck housekeeping counts.   Tidy up the cab and sleeper.

·         Doing laundry counts.

·          Mandatory “in attendance” time (such as when transporting placardable loads requiring attendance) may be counted for this break provided that you do no other duties during this time.

·         Take the truck to the repair shop for those minor defects that need attention.   You can’t be on duty while waiting for repairs to be completed – they got TV’s in those waiting rooms, so this would count!

·         Obtaining or renewing your DOT physical, and any work related drug or alcohol tests must be logged as on-duty time so this would not count.

·         All time spent in a roadside inspection is also considered on-duty time and should be logged as such, so this would not count.

·         Any form of compensated work that you do would not count towards a 30 minute break.   An example, say you sell synthetic oil products at the truck stop during a 30 minute time period and were compensated for that work.   This would not legally count towards your 30 minute break.   Any form of compensated work is considered on-duty time.


Think about other changes you can make to your schedule which would actually allow you to make this new rule work to your advantage.   Perhaps make the mandatory 30 minute break the time you take your shower each day.   Change the times you call home to check in with the family.   Use the 30 minute break to read emails or pay bills.   Exercise.  


Should you have any ideas that you would like to share, please feel free to post them in the comments section below.    Your ideas could help a fellow driver.


Disclaimer: This blog is NOT intended to give legal advice, nor be a substitute for any training required by the Regulations.

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Till the next blog,  Thank you drivers for all you do!. Please be safe!


John Mueller, CDS


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