Starting July 1, 2013, changes to hours of service laws for individuals operating Commercial Motor Vehicles (26,000 pounds or more) will go into effect. If more than eight (8) consecutive hours have passed since the last off-duty period of at least half an hour, a driver must take a break of at least 30 minutes.
The current weekly limits a driver may be on-duty, which is up to 70 hours in 7 days or 80 hours in 8 days and on-duty time of up to 16 hours and drive time of up to 12 hours each work day, remain in place.
To be counted as a valid break, the 30 minutes must be logged as off-duty. In speaking with the State Police on the matter, to be considered off-duty, the driver must be free of all obligations and responsibilities and free to leave the work site. However, this does not mean that the break must be unpaid necessarily.
A challenging point of the new rule is that the daily 30-minute break must be “logged” somehow. Some may think that they can avoid this requirement because there is a short haul exemption that allows drivers to not keep a logbook if they stay within 100 miles of their home base. However, at this point, it seems that the State Police view these two areas of the rules as independent of one another and therefore, the logged 30-minute break requirement still stands even when a driver is within the 100 mile radius of their home base.
MITA staff will continue to press for further, logical clarification on this new rule, which was put in place on the national level to force long-haul truck drivers to take breaks on a regular basis and yet the unintended consequences is that local industries, such as the construction industry, are affected.