RegulationTrucking

DOT to eliminate government’s “heavy hand” in HOS changes

A top Trump Administration official provided more context into the level of flexibility regulators will be considering when trucking hours of service (HOS) changes are rolled out in June.

Speaking on May 16 at the annual Global Supply Chain summit hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., Jannine Miller, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), said HOS regulations – and making “common sense” changes to them – is one of the department’s near-term priorities.

DOT has been considering “rest breaks and what can occur during those breaks, the length of drive-time versus on-duty, personal conveyance, as well as something as simple as defining what an agricultural commodity is,” Miller said, while aiming to “take away the heavy-hand of government where it does not help the private sector, and make sure, obviously, we’re still protecting all the safety standards that we benefit from.”

Miller’s comments are in line with recent statements from her boss, DOT Secretary Elaine Chao, and from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Ray Martinez, regarding the tack the Trump Administration will likely be taking in its final proposed rulemaking as it strives to make HOS regulations more compatible for drivers.

“I can tell you the Department understands the importance of giving you the flexibility [to do your jobs],” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao told attendees at the Mid-America Trucking Show in March.

The HOS rulemaking is currently under review at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and scheduled to be published for public comment in the federal register on June 7, although that could change depending on OMB’s review process.

FreightWaves SONAR data: average daily HOS utilization (in hours) over past year

Private companies, particularly startups, appreciate the flexible approach regulators under the Trump Administration have been taking on addressing new transportation technology. Speaking on the innovation panel alongside Miller, Jonny Morris, head of public policy at Embark, a developer of self-driving long-haul trucks, said it has been “really great” working with both Chao and Martinez.

“I think in the past the reaction has been, ‘we need new rules for this,’” Morris said. “But with Elaine Chao and her team, they’ve looked at all the existing rules dealing with equipment and operations and said, ‘which of these can we re-purpose, what existing authorities do we have that can ensure safety while allowing these [autonomous] vehicles to be developed and eventually deployed.’”

Morris cited the release in October 2018 of DOT’s AV 3.0 initiative, which includes guidance specifically addressing truck regulations. “We were pleased in that it held us to a very high safety standard that allowed a path forward for us, and resolved a lot of the uncertainty we had at the federal level,” he said.

Asked to comment on DOT’s approach toward autonomous long-haul truck technology such as that being developed by Embark, which claims to reduce costs and speed shipments by eliminating HOS limitations, “we definitely understand and are supporters of efficient freight flow, and the efficiencies that technology and automation can bring about – we’re laser focused on it,” Miller said.

“At the same time, safety is absolutely critical. What we’re really looking for are ways that autonomy can support safety. We think there are incredible safety gains that technology can bring that are maybe even beyond the efficiency gains.”

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John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.

31 Comments

  1. Sleep when tired, drive when rested. It’s simple.
    I’m sorry to inform you DOT, FMCSA and any other
    Safety organization, but you can’t regulate when
    I’ll be tired. I started driving semi in 1975
    With no chargeable accidents. Safety trumps
    Your HOS REGS. I will keep myself, you, your
    Family, and Joe Public safe, and do it my way.

    1. Thanks for your dedication to safety. It is too bad that Big Brother thinks it has more common sense than you. Especially given their track record when it comes to “common sense”.

      1. I was going to say the same thing. Government and common sense constitutes and oxymoron in my book,to there common sense makes up the oxy part and you can figure the rest.
        I couldnt fall asleep last night when i was supposed to be on my break I laid in the bunk awake. The load was scheduled tight then finally an hour before my break ended i got tired but i still had to oush through to make the delivery on time. Hours of service limitations make things more unsafe than safe because you’re always racing the clock and you are rushed. I would only limit it to 70 hours a week. When you drive or rest is the drivers choice. Since the 30minute mandate i have been driving split sleeper berth for the most part. 30minutes to sit behind the wheel and watch the clock run down. If i have to stop might aswell either make it an 8 or 2….how many of those government goons have even driven an 18wheeler for a period of time?
        Same as my moronic planners and dispatchers fresh out of highschool or college for cheaper entry-level wages,have no clue about life out here.

    2. That’s right. Smart good real truck drivers know when to stop. School truck drivers do not. The elog dont know when you are tired. At least not yet, nor do I see it anytime soon. What I see is a machine robotic ROBOTS trying to take jobs. An most of , the government DOT whatever you want to call it. Filling their pockets with gold. Most if not all, never drove truck.whose making this stuff up. Stop these schools , stop these companies from talking your money. It’s just STUPID BULLYING. It has never been about safety. I think there are more deaths now than before. Biggest part is above.

    3. dsafritsr@gmail.com hey randy i totally agree i’ve doing this since 1977 we are just different folks when i’m tiredn thats when i sleep it might not be but 30 min or 2 hrs but that’s how it is.shame they won’t put real truck drivers on 60 min and ask us what we really think.and i’m only talking about men and women that have 15-20 or more time behind the windshield

    4. 49 years and you are still driving truck, what have you done with all that money, spend it hanging out on the back party row. Personally I don’t think spending all those years living in a truck is anything to be proud of. Sure glad I’ve done something better with my life.

  2. Autonomous trucks are a smear to americans and will put alot of truck drivers out of careers and take the food right out of their kids mouths…

    1. Don’t worry electric trucks needs too much electricity. No one nation can provide so much electricity. So it is just bla bla bla. In America more then 2000.000 truck

    2. I don’t think so, there will still be a “driver” in the truck so they have someone to put in jail if there’s an accident. Colorado should be a wakeup call for every driver.

  3. I am a driver for 19 years and I would say that 10 hours of brake it’s just perfect. Any less will affect safety and lead to more accidents and any more is not needed. Private owner operators of course wants to drive as much as possible for more miles and more money but that would lead to zombie drivers that are very much unsafe on the road for everyone. What I think we need to do is ditch pay by mile but pay by hour. That’s something that would help all of us instead of sitting for 6 or more hours not being paid at loading and unloading places.
    We are working 24 hours a day and away from are families and normal life. We actually don’t have and can’t have a normal life and with this job we should be able to make enough money for 6 months to be off another 6 months to live are lifes and we should be able to retire early. That’s something that needs to be changing about this industry.

    1. Trucking has always been a performance paid job. It has worked well for most drivers who are willing to work. I don’t know of any industry that will pay a years wages for six months work. It would be cheaper for carrier’s to buy autonomous trucks and get rid of human drivers. If you don’t want to be away from home perhaps you should either find a local job or find another profession.

    2. Nobody is asking to drive more that is already regulated. If you are a company driver, they probably compensate all of your time spent in the truck, including 4-6 hours waiting at the shipper or receiver. Owner operators do not get paid if their wheels aren’t rolling. If I drive two hours to the shipper and spend 6 hours waiting to get loaded or unloaded, my day is over but still have bills to pay like I was driving. If they change it, so you can extend your 14 hours day in such cases, that would help a lot. And as for the company drivers, you have nothing to worry about and I don’t know why are you getting into this conversation anyways.

      1. So true..Owner Operators have all the truck exspences from maintenance, IFA, insurance, fuel, permits an it just goes on.. These wait times 6 hours here and 5 hours here cut into our ability to make money. We look at it like if you won’t work for free, why should we. Our truck is our business and we charge for that wait time, sure it’s a pain in the backside to have to haggle with these shippers an receivers that want to make money off your time and pocket book. Have to stand firm on that one…Common sense says “if e-logs could figure out when to tell you to go pee it would” it all looks good on paper and in the boardroom but in reality e-logs makes it unsafe for all on the roadways..It’s just my opinion as the wife of a owner operator that rides along an sees the daily struggles drivers go through..

  4. Government needs. to easy up on trucking when the same rules apply to Seniors who vdrive 60ft RVs and pull another ,20ft behind them with mo special regs regarding licence to drive or automobile drivers who can drive coast to coast without having to stop if they don’t want then gripe.. Most truckers are the best and safest out thier. We know when tired need to stop we are not children. Maybe the people making these rules on truckers should be put in a truck and actually see what we go through from having to sit in a shipper for hours on duty to our 14 hrs continuing to count down even when off duty. Maybe look into these drivers who cannot even read traffic signs or speak enough English to understand how to fuel thier truck. Maybe do something about automobile drivers with me first attitude towards the truck driver by cutting them off in traffic or all drivers who know a lane ends due to construction or accident and riding that lane till there is no more lane then try forcing the rest of traffic to come to a stop or cutting up off ramps to only come down on ramp on other side this is both trucks and cars and force thier way in again .Maybe they need to see how many people are texting or emailing thier cell weaving all over causing traffic tie UPS or accidents.I have. been a truck driver for over 30 years and all the regs you force upon us only lines your pockets and big business.come on out sit your butt in the driver’s seat deal with what we have to deal with just to move the frieght. If you buy it a trucker driver brought it. Back off let us make a living!!!!!!!!

  5. Government needs. to easy up on trucking when the same rules apply to Seniors who vdrive 60ft RVs and pull another ,20ft behind them with mo special regs regarding licence to drive or automobile drivers who can drive coast to coast without having to stop if they don’t want then gripe.. Most truckers are the best and safest out thier. We know when tired need to stop we are not children. Maybe the people making these rules on truckers should be put in a truck and actually see what we go through from having to sit in a shipper for hours on duty to our 14 hrs continuing to count down even when off duty. Maybe look into these drivers who cannot even read traffic signs or speak enough English to understand how to fuel thier truck. Maybe do something about automobile drivers with me first attitude towards the truck driver by cutting them off in traffic or all drivers who know a lane ends due to construction or accident and riding that lane till there is no more lane then try forcing the rest of traffic to come to a stop or cutting up off ramps to only come down on ramp on other side this is both trucks and cars and force thier way in again .Maybe they need to see how many people are texting or emailing thier cell weaving all over causing traffic tie UPS or accidents.I have. been a truck driver for over 30 years and all the regs you force upon us only lines your pockets and big business.come on out sit your butt in the driver’s seat deal with what we have to deal with just to move the frieght. If you buy it a trucker driver brought it. Back off let us make a living!!!!!!!!
    R

  6. Some companies assign loads to drivers that are already late for pickup and impossible to deliver legally on time. Logistic planners need more training in calculating load times. Rush hours, terrain, construction zones, location of services and weather have travel time impact. Some drivers leave trailers with maintenance issues unaddressed, causing delays for the next driver and load. Responsible drivers report issues they find, so trailers can receive repairs. Many more rest areas, truck stops and parking areas near customers are needed. Some cities allow no truck parking. Empty lots in these cities need to be converted to truck stops in industrial areas for the safety of all. Food trucks, porta potties, dumpsters and security need to be available at a minimum. Addresses, business names, and truck entrances need to be well marked with lighted or reflective signs at the streets. (Not 60 feet up a driveway, or on only one side of a shed.) Lack of signage wastes time, increases traffic and is surprisingly common. BOLs need the correct “deliver to company name” as many BOLs list a parent company name instead of the actual shipper or receiver. Shippers need to load in a timely manner. Taking 6 hours to load after an appointment is ridiculous. All of these issues have impact on drivers and the ability to get the rest and basic human services they need. Revenue for improvements could be made by patrolling freeway on-ramps. I observed 10 drivers in a row entering the freeway with a cell phone blocking their view as they “merged”. My husband is a responsible, safe driver with a 0 CSA score, and almost 2 million miles in the lower 48 states. I have annoyed people in forty states. Today is YOUR lucky day! Have a safe one.

  7. If safety is the main concern then we need to focus on that but also take into consideration that every person is different. Trucking is a job that requires truckers to be awake and working more than the time alloted. It baffles me how someone can speak on something they have never done and that is who most of these people are. Most of these safety problems are stemming from these big greedy corporations whom force drivers to buck their own rules. Ownere operators have more flexibility to coordinate their schedules according to their hours. HOS is just one part of this problem. Some trucks get multiple inspections in the same day. That needs to change! A single level 1 inspection will kill a drivers HOS for that day.

  8. I have a idea instead of focusing on ELDS focus on these new drivers that the big companies are putting behind the wheel with less than 1 month of experience. Focus on the the steering wheel holders that run down the road with TVs mounted on there dash or watching movies on there phone or tablet. ELDS are not the problem raise the age to 25 for over the road driving, and make the bigger companies train these so called truck drivers more before they can run over the road.

    1. I know a lot of people who have cellphones and tablets on their dash… many use them for GPS. I listen to YouTube occasionally, but I listen to it in my headset and might I add it takes less concentration than messing with the radio constantly especially since I only have to mess with it maybe once every two hours… usually to the news or things that interest me. I’ve been driving 10 years, never been in an accident. I feel like it keeps me awake and improves my focus because well lets face it, boredom is a bigger issue. People talk about highway hypnosis and falling asleep at the wheel… well you get highway hypnosis and fall asleep when your brain is not being stimulated and you aren’t getting the right sleep. There are many places that are very boring like Nebraska, the Nevada desert or the Utah salt flats for example where it is hundreds of miles of nothing.

      I keep the phone on the dash so i don’t need to avert my eyes from the road and reach for it… I get calls all day from my work on top of it since I usually have 4 or more pickups. I think some people just like to complain about things they don’t know how to do and then regulators see this garbage and come up with stuff like mandatory breaks, etc. that end up forcing drivers to work longer for dumb reasons… basically to pull off to a truck stop get parked and eat generally takes an hour… this is an hour that could be just as easily spent sleeping.

      Another issue I have is trucks governed to 60 mph or less… it does not make the road safer for the driver or other vehicles when the speed limit is 75… its essentially the same as putting up an unmarked barricade in the middle of the road. Its dumb, not safe… all you are doing is obstructing the flow of traffic.

      I remember my OTR days and rookie carriers well… I would sit at grocery warehouses for 6 hours and then be promptly kicked off the property at 2 a.m. (over hours might I add, severely) leaving me to try to find parking in a full lot at 3 a.m. or on a side road somewhere in Bumfuk.This is the stuff no one wants to address because its bad for business.

      I guess what I’m saying is you can’t have it both ways… government either needs to make sure shippers are not forcing drivers out of compliance or they need to make compliance sustainable and stop riding the drivers for things they cannot control. I was flat out told at a rookie carrier it was their truck and I was hired to drive it. They did not care about forcing me to break the law and that if I did not deliver on time I could park the truck and walk home… this is the reality of the 800 lb. gorilla in the room the FMCSA does not want to talk about.

  9. The rules were put in place in the 1930’s to protect drivers from having the companies push them into dangerous situations or lose their jobs. Now technology has removed the protections for the driver and the companies see how many hours the government says you can drive and when you have to take a break. So if you stop because you’re tired, the company threatens you with your job or your paycheck. Flexibility needs to return to the driver, so if he needs to stop every two hours to go to the bathroom or just a quick walk around the truck, the DRIVER is protected, not condemned, fired or penalized.

    1. Harassment Penalties
      Any carrier who is found to have harassed a driver will be subject to a civil penalty for harassment in addition a penalty for the HOS violation.

      Reporting Harassment
      A driver who believes he/she has been harassed should file a written complaint within 90 days using the National Consumer Complaint Database at http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov or with the FMCSA Division Administrator for the State (http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/mission/field-offices) where the driver is employed.

      Coercion
      FMCSA also prohibits coercion of drivers. Coercion is much broader than harassment. It can involve motor carriers, shippers, receivers, and transportation intermediaries (brokers and others). Coercion is a threat to take adverse employment action against drivers, or to withhold business, employment, or work opportunities from drivers, to get them to violate FMCSA regulations. Carrying out such threats to punish drivers who refuse to violate the regulations also constitutes coercion.

      https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/harassment-protection

  10. Though this is about Long haul transportation. DOT needs to make sure and follow through that private and secondary companies do not abuse these “loopholes” . Many already are and drivers have to get quite verbal repeatedly to stay safe.

    1. You know BRENDA, it is really sad that we are forced to sit here and wine about the same retarded, misguided, insane regulatory crap for 10 years… probably even longer than that. This is not about safety… its about money… and people are getting pissed off and leaving the industry because of asinine subjective regulation and the fact many carriers pay under .60 cpm which is a sad joke.

  11. The company has no concern about/for safety., only compliance w/ DOT regs. If the ” Heavy Hand ” is reduced, it would. be in my opinion as a Driver, detrimental.

    1. Let me correct that statement for you Pat… the companies care about the “appearance” of following DOT regs. The heavy hand always comes down on the drivers neck since the company will shift 100% of the blame to the driver as soon as anything goes wrong. If your over hours its your fault in the eyes of the law… they don’t care what the company said. For this reason I always tell dispatch I am recording the conversation when they tell me to break the law. This is the only way to fight back… legally.

      1. FMCSA prohibits coercion of drivers. Coercion is much broader than harassment. It can involve motor carriers, shippers, receivers, and transportation intermediaries (brokers and others). Coercion is a threat to take adverse employment action against drivers, or to withhold business, employment, or work opportunities from drivers, to get them to violate FMCSA regulations. Carrying out such threats to punish drivers who refuse to violate the regulations also constitutes coercion. The ELD Rule specifically prohibits a motor carrier from coercing a driver to falsely certify his/her data entries or record of duty status.

        https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/harassment-protection

  12. I want to know when big brother is going to start addressing the safety issue with the major cause of the problems out on the open road and in particular in metro areas — the car and pick up truck operators? These people are not drivers! The only training they may have received was drivers Ed classes in high school. These people do everything they can to make driving an 18, or 10, wheeler nearly impossible – slowing down in front of us, passing and pulling in front then hitting their brakes, etc. , etc.

  13. When are we going to get a real cdl holding official to oversee our industry,obviously SAFETY CANT BE YOUR GOLE,SINCE YOU HOLD US TO LONG INSIDE 14 HOURS!!!
    I AM FEDUP WITH BLEEDING HEART GROUPS RUNNING OUR INDUSTRY.
    I AM RETIRING SOON TO LEAVE IT TO THE NONCOMMERCIAL PEOPLE!!

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