Truck driver Hours of Service provisions are being altered later this month. One update that didn’t make the cut was a proposed ‘pause’ button on a driver’s 14-hour clock. Now, FMCSA is proposing a pilot program that would add just such a button for commercial truck drivers.
The Split Duty Period Pilot Program would give some 200-400 drivers the ability to interrupt their 14-hour on-duty time with one off-duty period. The break would need to be at least 30 minutes, but no longer than three hours. At the end of a day that includes such a ‘pause,’ drivers must take at least a full 10 hours of off-duty time before driving again.
The goal of the program is to find out if allowing drivers to pause their 14-hour clock would provide greater flexibility for drivers and reduce regulatory burdens without compromising safety.
The proposal is very similar to the ‘pause’ provision that was proposed in an early draft of the HOS reform rule that will be going into effect at the end of September. One of the reasons that it was removed from the final rule was that there was concern that carriers would coerce drivers to use the ‘pause’ for non-restful detention time, tiring them out and effectively lengthening the number of hours they work in a day.
“FMCSA acknowledges that the potential benefits of increased flexibility could be undermined if the pause is used by carriers, shippers, or receivers for purposes other than the productivity and safety of drivers,” reads the notice in the Public Register.
The public comment period will be open until November 2nd, 2020.
“FMCSA wants to hear directly from drivers about the possibility and safety of an hours-of-service pause pilot program,” said acting FMCSA Administrator Jim Mullen. “The agency remains committed to exploring ways to improve safety on our roadways, while increasing flexibility for truckers. We encourage drivers, motor carriers and interested citizens to review the proposed pilot program and provide substantive public comments for FMCSA to review.”
You can make a comment on the proposal on the Federal Register Website.