Update on FMCSA’s Newly-Revised Hours-of-Service Rules & More
Answered by Law Enforcement Officials (as of April 2012)
Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice.
These interpretations were made on February 28, 2012.
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NOTICE: UPDATE ABOUT NEW HOS RULES
Last month, in our March 2012 column, we started what we thought would be a series of articles explaining the changes to the Final Rule for the new Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations published by FMCSA on December 28, 2011. In that first article (March 2012), we mentioned the fact that it might be difficult to fully examine and explain these new rules because no official interpretations had yet been made by the FMCSA. Well, just days after one of our retired law enforcement officials attempted to explain the changes to the 34 Hour Restart rule, the FMCSA issued an interpretation on February 28, 2012 that contradicted the examples that our retired law enforcement official had written. Since most of the new rules do not even take effect until July 2013, and since there is a good chance that these regulations can change again or be interpreted differently than what might be expected between now and then, we have decided to hold off on trying to explain these changes until a later date so as not to give you any false information. This month, we will correct our example from last month regarding the 34 Hour Restart and then go on to “regular” questions from our readers. We apologize for any confusion our last article may have caused, and hope this further explanation below helps clarify the FMCSA’s interpretation of the change.
THE NEW 34 HOUR RESTART (REVISED)
Q: Has any of your people come up with how the latest 34 hour restart process will work with the new hours-of-service rules? I am also confused about the new mandatory rest periods between the hours of 1am and 5 am. Please help us with these questions. We teach and require all of our students to keep a logbook the entire time they are in our school. We need to be able to make this as clear as we can for them. Thank you in advance for your time and help – Colleen in North Carolina
A: Provided by Senior Trooper Monty Dial (Ret.), Texas Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Garland, TX:
Last month I answered Colleen’s question with two examples; one in which a driver drove all week but then was home on the weekend and one in which a driver did not go home on the weekend (he stayed out on the road). Since answering that question on the new 34 Hour Restart rule, FMCSA has issued a Logbook Example PDF file showing how the 34 Hour Restart works. FMCSA has modified their ruling on when the 168 hours (7 days) starts and stops when using the 34 Hour Restart. In FMCSA’s explanation, the driver is allowed to use the 34 Hour Restart provided there has been 168 hours since the beginning of the last 34 Hour Restart. Based on FMCSA’s modified explanation, the two examples I used to explain the 34 Hour Restart would be incorrect. According to the FMCSA’s explanation in the Logbook Examples PDF, if a driver arrives at home and starts their off duty period at 5pm on Friday, doesn’t return to duty until 3pm on Sunday afternoon, and doesn’t return home until 168 hours have elapsed, the driver could use this time at home as a 34 Hour Restart period. To read the entire FMCSA explanation on the 34 Hour Restart, go directly to the PDF on their website at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/hos/logbook.pdf.
CONFLICTING SIGNALS AT A SCALE
Q: If an approaching scale has signs indicating that it is closed but my in-cab PrePass® unit provides a red stop signal anyway, should I stop at the scale or just drive on by? Thanks – Monty in Ohio
A: Provided by Jim Brokaw, formerly a Staff Sergeant, Nebraska State Patrol, Carrier Enforcement Division, Lincoln, NE: The instructions for PrePass® say you are to follow the in-cab indication from your transponder, however, remember it is a system to legally bypass an open scale. If the highway signs are indicating the scale is closed, there isn’t a legal requirement for anyone to stop; so any indication from your transponder at this point is irrelevant. What probably happened is that when the officers closed their scale, they forgot to switch their PrePass® system to closed. You can find more information about PrePass® on their website at www.prepass.com.
~ The Ask The Law™ programs are an ongoing educational effort between Ol’ Blue, USA™ and commercial law enforcement agencies. Ol’ Blue, USA is a non-profit organization dedicated to highway safety education and to improving relations between the motoring public, law enforcement and commercial drivers. “Ask The Law” is a registered trademark of Ol’ Blue, USA. This column is copyrighted© by Ol’ Blue, USA. Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice. These interpretations were made on February 28, 2011.