– The recently signed federal highway bill exempts the driver of a utility service vehicle from the federal Hours-of-Service regulations, according to the National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA) Fleet Focus
e-mail newsletter. The exemption applies to a commercial vehicle used in the furtherance of repairing, maintaining, or operating any structures or any other physical facilities necessary for the delivery of public utility services, including the furnishing of electric, gas, water, sanitary sewer, telephone, and television cable or community antenna service.On August 19, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a new Hours-of-Service rule that spells out the length of time commercial drivers can operate trucks before they are required to take a break.The new rule replaces Hours-of-Service regulations that were last updated in 2003. Parts of the rule, including the maximum driving time and minimum rest limits remain the same. However, the rule includes a change affecting short-haul operators that may benefit many NAFA members.As in the 2003 regulations, the new rule prohibits truckers from driving more than 11 consecutive hours, working longer than 14 hours in a shift, and driving more than 60 hours over a seven-day period or 70 hours over an eight-day period. The new rule requires truckers to rest for at least 10 hours between shifts and provides a 34-hour period to recover from cumulative fatigue.The most important change under the new rule now allows short-haul operators not required to hold a commercial drivers license, like delivery drivers, who work within a 150-mile radius of their starting point, to extend their work day twice a week. They also will no longer have to maintain logbooks.The new rule is becomes effective on October 1, 2005.