*A. Definition of On-Duty Time
The FMCSA is excluding from the definition of on-duty time (i) any time resting in a parked vehicle, or (ii) up to 2 hours in the passenger seat of a moving property-carrying CMV, immediately before or after 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth.
(1) If a driver spends time waiting to be loaded or unloaded resting or conducting personal business, can the driver log it as off duty?
The changes to the definition do not alter the existing parts of the definition that define, as on duty, “(5) All time loading or unloading a commercial motor vehicle, supervising, or assisting in the loading or unloading, attending a commercial motor vehicle being loaded or unloaded, remaining in readiness to operate the commercial motor vehicle, or in giving or receiving receipts for shipments loaded or unloaded.” Unless a driver is released from all responsibility for the vehicle while waiting to be loaded or unloaded, time spent waiting is still considered on-duty time. Revised on February 13, 2012.
*(2) Why didn’t FMCSA limit the amount of time a driver can rest in a parked vehicle?
FMCSA does not believe that the rule should include a time limit in a parked CMV or other vehicle. Under the previous definition, a driver could be forced to spend time out of the cab even if there were no safe place to do so or no shelter or facilities. It is surely better that the driver can rest in the cab in these circumstances, regardless of the length of time involved. (3) Why is a team driver limited to counting 2 hours in the passenger seat as off duty?
This rule continues to require drivers to take 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, and allows them to take an additional 2 hours in the passenger seat when the vehicle is moving, without artificially confining them to the sleeper berth for the entire 10-hour period. This provides team drivers an opportunity to “keep the truck moving” as much as possible, by having driver A drive for 10 hours while driver B obtains a full daily rest period without having to stay in the sleeper berth for 10 straight hours. (Note that in order to continue driving, each driver must take the required minimum 30-minute off-duty break at some point prior to exceeding 8 hours since the last such break.) Driver B can take 8 hours in the sleeper berth and 2 hours in the passenger seat to accomplish the required off-duty period. Then the drivers may change positions. This reversal pattern could continue until either driver reaches the maximum limit of 60 or 70 hours on-duty in a 7 or 8 day period.
*(4) Do the 2 hours in the passenger seat have to be a continuous period of 2 hours? What if more than 2 hours are spent in the passenger seat?
The 2 hours in the passenger seat does not have to be a continuous period of 2 hours. For example, 1 hour could be prior to the sleeper-berth time and 1 hour after. All of the sleeper-berth time and 2 hours passenger-seat time must be consecutive in order to count the passenger-seat time as off duty. If the co-driver exceeds 2 hours in the passenger seat in conjunction with at least 8 hours in the sleeper berth, any passenger-seat time in excess of 2 hours would be considered “on duty/not driving.” Revised on February 13, 2012.
B. Oilfield provisions
As proposed, FMCSA is revising the oilfield operations exception to clarify the language concerning recording of waiting time and to state that waiting time is not included in the calculation of the driving window.
(1) Why is this change necessary?
The current regulation requires certain drivers to keep a separate record of “waiting time” at well sites, but does not specify how the record should be maintained. The new rule is more specific in response to requests for clarification from the industry and law enforcement.
(2) Does this change the exclusion of waiting time from the driving window?
No. FMCSA has previously stated that the waiting time at well sites is not included in calculation of the driving window. This new rule clarifies that by placing specific language in the regulatory text.
The FMCSA is adopting, as proposed, a rule that driving (or allowing a driver to drive) 3 or more hours beyond the driving-time limit may be considered an egregious violation and subject to the maximum civil penalties. This rule allows, but does not require, the agency to treat these violations as egregious.
*(1) Why did FMCSA select 3 or more hours as a potentially egregious violation?
Exceeding the normal driving-time limits by 3 or more hours would severely test driver stamina and substantially increase the risk of a fatigue-caused crash. A violation that serious warrants severe penalties. Revised on February 13, 2012.
*(2) Does the “egregious violation” provision apply to exceeding the 14-hour rule also?
No. The “egregious violation” provision only applies to driving time; that is, exceeding the 11-hour (property) or 10-hour (passenger) limits.