MOTOR CARRIERS (HOURS OF SERVICE – HOW TO FILL OUT LOGBOOKS) / With new Hours of Service regulation taking effect as of July 1, 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration updates regulatory guidance about how truck drivers should make logbook entries about their rest and meal breaks. The FMCSA expresses its belief that the former (1997) guidance had, “the effect of discouraging drivers from taking breaks during the work day, or documenting such breaks in their logbooks”.

Hours of Service for Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers; Regulatory Guidance Concerning Off-Duty Time.”

Regulatory Guidance. July 12, 2013.

“FMCSA revises its April 4, 1997, regulatory guidance concerning the conditions that must be met in order for a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver to record meal and other routine stops made during a work shift as off-duty time. The Agency has reviewed the guidance and determined that it includes language that is overly restrictive and inconsistent with the hours-of-service regulations. The 1997 guidance has the effect of discouraging drivers from taking breaks during the work day, or documenting such breaks in their logbooks.”

“On April 4, 1997 (62 FR 16370), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published “Regulatory Guidance for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.” The notice presented interpretive guidance material for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) based on the FHWA’s consolidation or previously issued interpretations and regulatory guidance materials. The FHWA developed concise interpretive guidance in question-and-answer form for each part of the FMCSRs.

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“In consideration of the above, FMCSA has determined the 1997 regulatory guidance should be revised to eliminate language that has the effect of discouraging drivers from taking breaks during the work day, or documenting such breaks in their logbooks. The FMCSA revises Question 2 to 49 CFR 395.2, to read as follows:

Question 2: What conditions must be met for a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver to record meal and other routine stops made during a work shift as off-duty time?

“Guidance: Drivers may record meal and other routine stops, including a rest break of at least 30 minutes intended to satisfy 49 CFR 395.3(a)(3)(ii), as off-duty time provided:

  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.

“Through the revision of the regulatory guidance, FMCSA makes clear that the motor carrier need not provide formal guidance, either verbal or written, to drivers with regard to the specific times and locations where rest break may be taken. The revised guidance also emphasizes that periods of time during which the driver is free to stop working, and engage in activities of his/her choosing, may be recorded as off-duty time, irrespective of whether the driver has the means or opportunity to leave a particular facility or location. All previously issued guidance on this matter should be disregarded if inconsistent with today’s notice.”