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FMCSA tool aimed at aiding transition to amended hours-of-service regs

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Photo: Grafissimo /iStockphoto

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has launched a free online resource intended to help motor carriers and commercial truck drivers better understand a controversial final rule the agency claims adds flexibility to hours-of-service regulations.

Under the rule, which was published in the June 1 Federal Register and went into effect Sept. 29, FMCSA:

  • Changed the short-haul exemption to 150 air miles from 100, and 14 hours on duty from 12, to be consistent for rules with long-haul truck drivers.
  • Extended the previous 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
  • Revised the previous mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving.
  • Reinstated the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks equipped with sleeper berth compartments.

Users of the Educational Tool for Hours of Service can enter HOS data into a sample log to identify whether a violation has occurred. FMCSA notes that ETHOS “is for educational purposes only,” and its use “does not preclude enforcement or other actions by FMCSA based on violations discovered during roadside inspections, compliance review, or other inspections and investigations.”

FMCSA acting administrator Wiley Deck told Safety+Health the agency has worked hard in preparation for the launch of the revised HOS regulations, and called ETHOS a prime example of the agency’s effort to ease the transition.

“Its simple, scenario-based system is user-friendly and very helpful, particularly given the uniqueness of runs and driver situations,” Deck said. “We encourage everyone to try ETHOS for themselves.”


The final rule does not include a proposed provision that would have allowed covered commercial motor vehicle operators one rest break of up to three consecutive hours during every 14-hour on-duty period. However, under a proposed FMCSA pilot program published in the Sept. 3 Federal Register, CMV operators would be allowed one rest break of up to three consecutive hours but no less than 30 minutes during every 14-hour on-duty period. Comments on the pilot program are due Nov. 2.

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