Why Your Company Should Be Cautious About the Upcoming (and Unknown) HOS Changes

The semi-truck industry has been on a roller coaster of regulatory changes, and the ride’s not over yet. This June, the U.S. Department of Transportation will release some changes to the current Hours of Service regulations. These changes are being touted as more flexible, but the specifics aren’t clear. Some of the changes are likely to touch on:

  • Increasing short-haul exemptions to fourteen hours of on-duty time instead of twelve hours.
  • Altering the thirty-minute break after eight hours of continuous driving.
  • Extending on-duty allowable hours during adverse weather.

None of these topics are guaranteed, and the FMCSA also asked for feedback regarding splitting up off-duty breaks. How will changes in hours of service impact your trucking business from an insurance standpoint?

Violations due to confusion can still hurt your company’s record.

ELDs were initially required in order to make sure drivers and companies adhered to drive-time restrictions. While the broad restrictions have caused a lot of problems for groups such as agricultural drivers, the increasingly complex exceptions can be just as dangerous. So far, the FMCSA and DOT haven’t released any news about exemptions or gray areas during the summer’s potential transitions.

Make sure your in-house policies still fall on the side of caution.

When the regulations change frequently, it can be difficult to stay on the right side of the policies. This can be dangerous for your company (and your drivers) whether you hire employees or contract with independent owner-operators. If there’s any doubt on where an upcoming policy will land, slow down your internal changes in policies and wait for confirmation. That can be tricky when loosening of restrictions is the only way to complete jobs on time, but ELDs will still log violations. Those ELD records might not be completely caught up with upcoming changes, either.

Don’t mistake federal changes for state changes.

Recently, California’s ability to protect individual drivers from differing measures in federal laws was questioned and — in certain cases — denied. But if your company handles interstate transportation, make sure your policies still adhere to state-based laws when they need to.

To stay updated as changes and confirmations roll out, keep reading at J.E.B. Insurance Services, LLC here. We provide commercial truck insurance in the states of Florida, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska.

David Ott

David Ott