Truckers continue to be vital in keeping America’s supply chains open during the global pandemic. As such, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have released new regulations regarding the number of hours truck drivers can spend driving each day.
These altered regulations provide companies more flexibility to allow their essential workers to do their jobs during the crisis.
Modernizing the regulations
The hours of service regulation changes are expected to provide over $270 million in cost savings for the U.S. economy and local businesses. The trucking industry employs approximately 7 million people who are responsible for hauling 70 percent of the U. S. domestic freight.
New regulation changes
FMCSA has revised the regulations for commercial drivers in order to supply goods to American citizens and businesses in need. The new changes provide for more flexibility for drivers and how they spend their time on the clock.
The following are some of the highlights of the changes:
30-minute break rule: Breaks can now be satisfied while still in “on-duty, not driving” status
Sleeper-berth exception: Drivers can now split their required 10 off-duty hours into two periods with neither period counting against their 14-hour driving window. For example, this gives drives the options of a 8/2 split or a 7/3 split
Adverse driving conditions exception: This extends the maximum driving window by two hours
Short-haul exemption: This extends the maximum on‑duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extends the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles
It is important to note, however, that the rule changes do not increase overall driving time. Commercial truck drivers cannot drive for more than eight consecutive hours without at least one 30-minute break.
New rules and the waste industry
These changes to the rules affect the waste management industries in a number of ways. Regulation changes are particularly applicable to waste haulers who are working between far away cities or states. This is especially true for hazardous waste companies.
Some benefits to waste haulers include:
With the new ability of staying on the clock for the duration of the break, it allows for the driver to stay on the clock for an overall longer period. This equates to more flexible timing.
While the flexibility of the regulations does not mean that drivers will be working for longer hours overall, it does mean that it’s easier to estimate the window of arrival time. This is particularly useful when estimating the time of arrival for hazardous waste hauling.
Predictable arrival times
It becomes easier to more accurately predict when the driver will arrive to pick up the waste for each client.
Having more flexibility with the rules about on-the-clock drivers increases the peace of mind for hazardous waste generators in particular.
Hazardous waste generators are grouped into three different categories, each with their own set of EPA rules and regulations.
● Very small quantity generators (VSQG): These generators don’t have a time frame for pickup, but all hazardous waste must be picked up before 1,000 kilograms of waste accumulates.
● Small quantity generators (SQG): These generators can’t accumulate waste for longer than 180 days. On-site waste cannot exceed 6,000 kilograms.
● Large quantity generators (LQG): These generators can’t accumulate waste for longer than 90 days.
More predictable arrival times allow drivers transporting hazardous waste materials a higher degree of precision and accuracy when coordinating large loads with multiple clients over long distances and between states.
The new Department of Transportation regulations also make it easier to arrive within a precise date/time window to pick up waste before it goes over the accumulation limits.
Better serve customers
When driving long distances, it was previously more difficult to arrive at the customer’s place of work during normal business hours. It’s now easier to plan around this accordingly.
For the hazardous waste industry specifically, this allows drivers the opportunity to arrive at the client's location at more specific times to serve customers better during their normal business hours.
Previously, it wasn’t uncommon for businesses to operate outside of the normal hours to get the hazardous waste off site in a timely manner in order to adhere to EPA regulations.
FMCSA regulations for safety
These rules were originally put into place to ensure that truck drivers were getting enough rest before getting behind the wheel to minimize potential fatigue-related accidents on the road.
While the new additions to the regulations allow for more flexibility in terms of the time spent behind the wheel, they do not encourage fewer breaks or overall increased driving time.
Violations of the regulations
Drivers in violation of the strict rules can be fined. They also may have operations suspended until enough off-duty hours have accrued to put the driver back in compliance with the rules and regulations.
Mark Chocola is the national sales director of HWH Environmental.