Hours-of-service break requirement top issue with new regs, enforcers say

Updated Jul 15, 2013

hours truck stopThough it’s too soon to know exactly how enforcement of the new hours-of-service regulations are faring, the enforcement community to this point has noticed some confusion and many questions regarding the 30-minute break required after eight on-duty hours.

The new regulations took effect July 1 and reduce the number of hours drivers can work in a week, require the 30-minute break and limits drivers to one 34-hour restart a week that includes two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

States have 21 days to upload inspection data and compliance reviews to SafetyNet, the computer system used by state law enforcement. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, however, says it should have enough data by its annual conference in September to have an idea of how the enforcement community is handling the change.

CVSA Executive Director Steve Keppler says most questions so far about the new rules are about the 30-minute break requirement.

Lt. Thomas Fitzgerald of the Massachusetts state police said traffic stops are taking longer than normal because truck drivers are seeking assurance they are adhering correctly to the new regulations.

Fitzgerald is in charge of commercial vehicle enforcement for the state, and he said the state’s troopers have discretion as far as enforcement is concerned, especially if any violations are over new rules and the driver does not have a history of offenses.

Lt. Shawn Currie, head of the Maine state police’s commercial vehicle enforcement division, says his group is conducting soft enforcement for the first month of the new rules, and that troopers will issue out-of-service orders but are not brining violators to court unless they are repeat violators.

Currie did say, however, there has actually been a drop in violations for truck drivers in the first week of the new rules compared to the previous seven days.

Dave Osiecki, of the American Trucking Associations, said the rules for the 30-minute break do not take into account the extra time it takes for drivers to find parking and get out of the truck. Osiecki is ATA’s senior vice president for policy and regulatory affairs.

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Truckers have had nearly as many questions about limiting restarts to once per 168 hours as the 30-minute break, Osiecki said. State law enforcement agencies conducted HOS training in May and June, but the ATA has heard little this month about enforcement.

Jeffrey Davis, vice president of safety for the Motor Transport Underwriters, says the 34-hour restart mandate that requires drivers to take a restart that includes two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods could cause problems. For instance, many of the MTU customers are flatbedders, and their work starts many times at 4 a.m.

Davis said the stipulation that the restart include the same four-hour block could leave long-haul drivers scavenging for an already short supply of parking.