TCA Vice President of Government Affairs, Dave Heller and TCA Manager of Government Affairs, Kathryn Sanner
On October 21, the public comment period closed for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on hours of service (HOS). More than 2,700 comments were submitted to the Agency, with arguments both in favor of and opposed to the NPRM’s five key proposals being well represented.
TCA’s comments to FMCSA generally support the NPRM and we applaud the Agency for moving forward with much-needed changes to the regulations, which do not presently provide the necessary flexibility for the industry. However, along with highlighting the positive aspects of the NPRM, TCA used these comments to expound upon a few concerns that the proposals raised.
The main item of concern was with the proposed changes to the sleeper-berth provision. While TCA wholeheartedly agrees that more flexibility should be added to the regulations, we do not believe the addition of a 7/3 split goes far enough to address critical issues being faced by our professional truck drivers every day.
Everything from driver detention at shipping and receiving facilities, highway congestion, and weather disturbances can be mitigated by full sleeper-berth flexibility – allowing drivers to take their required rest breaks at any interval they choose, when it works best with their sleep schedules and when the driver is actually feeling the need for that break. Drivers deserve to be in full control of their day as they are the only ones who truly understand what they are seeing on the roads and feeling with their own bodies. This can best be accomplished by taking a holistic approach to the 24-hour workday, as our drivers are out on the open road for many days at a time. TCA does not advocate for extending the workday, but we believe the regulations should reflect the true nature of our drivers’ schedules.
Truckload carriers and their drivers need a complete overhaul of the sleeper-berth provision – not just the small tweak currently proposed by FMCSA. While the 7/3 split option is a step in the right direction, TCA firmly believes it is not enough and we strongly encourage FMCSA to pursue additional flexibility in future regulations.