FMCSA issues guidance on breaks in on-duty time

| July 12, 2013

tuck stop

In a language clarification from the 1997 guidance on hours of service rules, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is issuing Friday, July 12, an updated version of regulatory guidance concerning breaks for drivers.

The guidance comes on the heels of the July 1 effective date of hours of service rule changes and clarifies guidance it says has an “effect of discouraging drivers from taking breaks during the work day, or documenting such breaks in their logbooks.” Among other changes, the new regulations require drivers take a 30-minute break every eight hours on duty.

The two new conditions that FMCSA says must be met to record meal and other routine stops made during on-duty hours as off-duty break time:

(1)”The driver is relieved of all duty and responsibility for the care and custody of the vehicle, its accessories, and any cargo or passengers it may be carrying.”

(2) “During the stop, and for the duration of the stop, the driver must be at liberty to pursue activities of his/her own choosing.

The 1997 guidance includes requirements for written instructions from a drivers’ employers concerning breaks and are inconsistent with FMCSA rules, the agency says. The new guidance, says the agency’s notice, attempts to make clear to carriers that they do not need to provide guidance to drivers — written or verbal — regarding specifics as to when and where they can take rest breaks.

“While FMCSA has not received any requests for clarification of the guidance, the agency believes it is out-of-date and no longer provides practical assistance to motor carriers attempting to achieve compliance with HOS rules,” says FMCSA’s notice.

The Seven Deadly Sins’ Effect On Professional Drivers



Professional drivers are humans and are subject to the challenges faced by every one of us on a daily basis.   However, many of these trials are unique to the men and women behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer.   The seven deadly sins have been identified as pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth.   How do these sins harm your professional image?  Let’s start with pride. 

Pride has been identified as the “excessive belief in one’s own abilities.”   How many times have you pushed yourself just one more mile or one more hour longer than you were comfortable driving?   Have you ever accepted a load that you knew you couldn’t complete within your legal hours of service limit?   When was the last time you made a promise to your family that you weren’t sure you could keep?   If so, you were overestimating your ability or stretching your level of competence.   This is the sin of pride.  

The second sin is identified as envy.   Every time you desire another person’s traits, status, abilities or situation, you are guilty of envy.   When you wish that you had their safety record, their looks or their ambition, you’re committing one of the seven deadly sins.   If your desire to find greater success moves you to make positive changes in your actions, that’s different, but when you merely wish that you could have an ability demonstrated by a fellow driver, that’s envy.

Gluttony is the third deadly sin, and if you look at the typical professional driver, you’ll find a prevalence of gluttony, or “the desire to consume more than what you require.”   Every extra pound on your frame is evidence of gluttony.   It’s especially difficult for drivers to eat only what your body needs for sustenance, but we all have choices, and these are choices that you make every time you put something in your mouth.  

The fourth sin is identified as lust, or “an inordinate craving for pleasures of the body.”   Although gluttony could fall into this category, other desires include drugs, alcohol and sex.   Professional drivers are required by law to refrain from abusing drugs, and alcohol use is severely limited when you’re on the road. Evidence of sexual lust is still seen at truck stops and rest areas where prostitutes are utilized.   Lust is a reflection of your own personal values and the image you present to others.  

Anger is probably least recognized as being a sin.   Unleashing your wrath on your dispatcher won’t make your situation easier, as communication flows more smoothly when neither side is angry.   Yelling at the fuel desk clerk, aggressive behavior on the road and slamming the phone down when talking to your mate are all signs of anger, one of the seven deadly sins.  

The sixth sin is that of greed, or the desire for material wealth or gain at the expense of others.   Greed differs from lust because the longing is for things, especially those owned by others, and not immediate physical gratification. Greed is not the same thing as envy, or a desire for someone else’s characteristics, but focuses on what they own.   If you’ve even wished that you owned that big rig parked next to you, then you’re guilty of greed.   Wanting something that someone else has worked for is considered a sin.  

The last of the seven deadly sins is called sloth, or the avoidance of work. We all want to be more efficient, but when that desire to reduce our workload creates an imbalance by causing more effort by others, then it’s considered a sin.   Sloth is also evident how a driver treats his or her truck.   Leaving trash in the cab, allowing the truck to become excessively dirty, or forgoing a thorough pre-trip inspection is considered laziness, or sloth.   In some cases, your inaction could create a hazard for you or others on the road.  

The seven deadly sins should be avoided by all of us whether we drive a truck for a living or not.   As professional drivers, you have enough challenges to face each time you accept a load, make a delivery or stop along the way.   If your goal is to enhance your image, along with that of your peers, keep these sins in mind and stay away from them when possible.   As a professional driver, are you mindful of your image?  How do you avoid the pitfalls described in this article?  Share your stories and opinions in our comments section.