Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

Jul 30, 2013

Rest break rules for interstate CMV drivers went into effect July 1, 2013

Wage and Hour 

The July 1, 2013, deadline has passed for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers who drive in interstate commerce to begin taking mandatory rest breaks of at least 30 minutes after 8 hours of duty, if they want to drive later in the shift.

The July 1, 2013, deadline has passed for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers who drive in interstate commerce to begin taking mandatory rest breaks of at least 30 minutes after 8 hours of duty, if they want to drive later in the shift. The drivers must be completely off duty during this rest time, with a limited exception for drivers who are required by federal rules to remain in attendance on CMVs containing explosives. The 30 minutes count toward the maximum 14-hour window of permitted on-duty time for drivers. Covered CMVs include those that are rated at 10,001 pounds or more; are designed or used to carry more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; are designed or used to carry more than 15 passengers (including the driver) without compensation; or are used in transporting hazardous material requiring a placard. The rest breaks have been optional for drivers and employers since February 27, 2012, but they became mandatory as of July 1, 2013.

Another change which became mandatory as of July 1, 2013, is a limitation on the ability to restart the maximum weekly driving hours for CMV drivers operating in interstate commerce. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) allows these drivers to work a maximum of 60 or 70 hours per week (depending on whether the motor carrier operates 7 days a week). By taking 34 consecutive hours off, the driver may restart that weekly calculation. Under the new rule, a driver can only use this 34-hour restart option once per week (168 hours) and the 34 hours must include two periods from 1:00 to 5:00 a.m. (76 Fed Reg 81134, Dec. 27, 2011).

Tips: The mandatory rest breaks have a significant impact on drivers’ schedules. As an employer, in addition to educating your drivers about the new rules, you should inform dispatchers and other affected staff members who may need to map out safe places where drivers can pull over for these breaks. You may also need to coordinate with customers if you expect that the 30-minute rest break will need to take place while the driver is on the customer’s property. For example, will the customer permit the vehicle to be unattended by your driver for 30 minutes? Is there a restroom and break area available to the driver? If the vehicle is parked, it’s okay for the driver to spend the rest break in the vehicle as long as no duties are performed.

A helpful Q&A and additional information is available on the FMCSA website. For more information about your employment-related obligations as a motor carrier, see our Legal Guide, “Motor Carrier Safety Requirements” (3146) or contact us to learn more about membership with Vigilant for ongoing help and legal counsel with employment issues.

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