June 17, 2020


On May 14, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a Final Rule on Hours of Service (HOS) regulation changes to increase driver safety and satisfaction simultaneously. On June 10, I presented an in-depth webinar on these changes, how they will affect drivers, and what you should focus on as an Omnitracs customer.

To make sure all our customers are prepared, I have gathered a list of your top questions, coupled with my answers, below:

  1. The published ruling states the effective date for these new regulations to go into effect is September 29. Is that the case?

The Federal Register has published an effective date of September 29, 2020.

  1. When these changes take effect, when will Omnitracs have them available in the system for my drivers to use?

As pointed out in the webinar, we are implementing the 30-minute rest break and split-sleeper berth changes to the Enterprise Services platforms (IVG and MCP). We will implement all of the related changes to the XRS and Omnitracs One platforms.

We intend to have the changes prepared, tested, and deployed, so they are available to use on September 29, 2020 — the official effective date, as of right now.

  1. Concerning split sleeper-berth hours, how long can a driver delay their workday?

Since neither of the split berth off-duty periods counts against the 14-hour driving window, a driver’s day can be expanded by up to 3 hours.

  1. Are all these changes related to the U.S., Canada, or both? Does the short-haul exception apply to a driver who crosses an international border and/or crosses a state line?

The short-haul exception rule in Canada is different from that of the United States.  When operating in various international jurisdictions, a driver of the CMV must follow the regulations of that country.

  1. If some of our drivers fall under the short-haul exemption, yet the vehicle they are driving has an ELD, would this cause confusion when checked?

The ELD has a setting that allows the driver to set an exempt status. Properly completing this process would eliminate any confusion.  However, under these regulations, all a driver is required to do is declare to the enforcement officer that they are operating under the short-haul exception.

  1. Can the 16-hour exception be applied alongside the adverse condition exception, further extending a driver’s day?

The 16-hour “big day” and adverse driving exceptions are two different rules. There are no regulatory limitations that would prevent a driver from declaring an adverse driving exception when they are using the big day exception.  However, the weekly restrictions under the 60/70-hour rules concerning the maximum number of on-duty hours that may be accumulated before driving is prohibited remain unchanged.

  1. My business is in XYZ state, and we fall under the ready-mix industry exemption from HOS and ELD, as long as we stay intrastate. Can you touch on the impact the new rulings will have on our industry as it pertains to intrastate and interstate operations?

States generally make modifications to the federal interstate rules when formulating intrastate rules.  Unless the state specifically modifies a federal regulation, federal laws will apply to intrastate operations.

  1. On Omnitracs devices, will the new break rule register automatically if there already is a 30-minute break using a non-driving event, or will the driver have to indicate this is their break time?

Yes, the new break rule will automatically be captured in all Omnitracs HOS solutions.  The driver does not need to take any specific action.

  1. Does the 30-minute break have to be continuous, or can it be split up?

It must be a consecutive 30 minutes.  However, it can be made up of any combination of non-driving duty status.

  1. What can a driver do if they are forced by law enforcement to move during a split sleeper?

The driver must annotate the log to explain why the sleeper berth was interrupted by a driver or personal conveyance segment. The Omnitracs driver clocks will show a potential violation, as the split sleeper requirements will not be satisfied. However, enforcement will look for those annotations in eRODS and make their determination regarding violations.

  1. What do these regulations mean for local drivers?

Local drivers only need to focus on the regulations regarding the CDL-required short-haul exception, as it was modified for them.  Regulations related to non-CDL short-haul and driver salespersons remain unchanged.

  1. How do we access personal conveyance on our Omnitracs ELD?

The motor carrier must configure it. Please contact your customer support representative for assistance.

  1. Regarding the split sleeper-berth rule, must a driver always take the greater time period off first (i.e., 7/3 instead of 3/7 or 8/2 instead of 2/8)?

When using the split-sleeper berth rule, it does not matter the order in which the off-duty periods are used. The only requirement is that the longer of the two must be in the sleeper berth.  That part of the regulation remains unchanged.

  1. Recent industry conversation is emphasizing that the proposed highway bill would delay the implementation of the new HOS rule changes. Do you have any further information on this?

We will have to follow the legislative process related to the bill that was proposed.  It will go through many modifications before it would even be submitted to the Senate, where it is likely to undergo even more changes.

  1. Will we need to implement software updates for this to take effect?

Yes, Omnitracs will require new host and mobile software.  Mobile updates will be done over the air.

  1. Will the new regulations include the 16-hour big day rule?

The regulations around the 16-hour big day rule have not been modified by the HOS changes published by the FMCSA.

  1. We use the Omnitracs mobile app. Will our drivers need to do a software update for these changes to take effect on September 29?

Yes, they will.  Mobile updates will be done over the air.

  1. Is the split sleeper-berth rule available to both single and team drivers?

Yes, that is correct. When you’re following the split sleeper-berth rule, it does not matter the order in which the off-duty periods are used.  The only requirement is that the longer of the two must be in the sleeper berth. That part of the regulation remains unchanged.

  1. Can a driver take advantage of the new split sleeper-berth rules if it’s a day-cab truck?

No. The vehicle must be equipped with the regulatory-compliant sleeper-berth for you to apply any sleeper-berth options defined by the FMCSA.

  1. If we move some drivers to the short-haul exception and back to Automatic Onboard Recording Device (AOBRD), will the new rule set be implemented in the AOBRD system?

Yes, the same rules apply and are calculated for both ELDs and AOBRDs.

  1. What if you are going between one state and Canada, but never traveling between multiple U.S. states? Would you be subject to state or federal rules?

You would be subject to the federal regulations of the country you’re in as you would be engaging in interstate commerce.

There you have it! Your top questions answered. I also highly recommend you review the full webinar, which you can find here, to review all of the critical HOS regulatory updates.

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