Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) chief, Ray Martinez, has been on an “aggressive listening tour” for several months now. The organization is doing its best to get a consensus on ways forward, if not “a unanimity of opinion,” Martinez said. He has received recommended steps from a wide variety of groups in the industry, “and if I have multiple organizations that submit 20 recommendations, but five of them match up across the group, then that gives me some basis to go forward.”
Recently, as FreightWaves covered, FMCSA provided some guidance for the agricultural movement exemptions, and the “personal conveyance” provision. This clarity provides much-needed flexibility to a key challenge to the hours-of-service (HOS) issues that has had so many up in arms, especially with increasing congestion and parking issues.
Another recent step the agency has taken is to keep up with technology’s crucial role in moving forward. Toward that end, the FMCSA has posted a new infographic on its website, which it says it plans to update monthly.
According to the infographic, the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is working. FMCSA describes the infographic as a “snapshot of the positive impact ELDs are having on improving HOS compliance on our nation’s roads.”
Since the ELD mandate went fully into effect April 1 with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s Out-of-Service criteria for ELDs, less than 1% (4,720) of all driver inspections (559,940) have resulted in the driver being cited for operating without a required ELD or grandfathered AOBRD, the agency reported.
According to the infographic, only 0.64% of driver inspections in May had at least one HOS violation. Compared to year-over-year from May 2017, that’s an improvement from 1.31% of driver inspections had at least one HOS violation.
The rate dropped significantly after December 18, 2017, when the first soft enforcement phase went into effect, dropping from 1.19% in December to .83% in January. The rate stayed right around that mark for the first quarter of the year, then dropped again once the hard deadline hit in April, to .69%.
Meanwhile, trucking interests represented by the American Trucking Association (ATA) are pushing for legislation in Washington that would reform the underlying HOS regulations, now that strict enforcement is highlighting some of the operational difficulties with the rules, such as the Honest Operators Undertake Road Safety, or HOURS, Act (H.R. 6178).
“Now that the trucking industry is coming into full compliance with the electronic logging mandate, the next step in improving truck safety and supply chain efficiency is to use the data these ELDs collect to make needed improvements to the underlying hours-of-service rules,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. He added that ATA sees this “important legislation providing flexibility for millions of drivers while enhancing truck safety.”
The ATA contends that since the shift to mandatory use of electronic logging devices to track drivers’ hours of service began in December, issues have arose but not around ELD use, but about the flexibility of the underlying hours-of-service rules.
According to the ATA, the HOURS Act would provide hours-of-service relief in these four areas:
1. Exempting drivers hauling livestock or agricultural products from the hours-of-service rules within 150 air-miles of the source of their load– regardless of state-designated planting or harvesting season
2. Harmonizing the hours-of-service rules for short-haul truck drivers by providing one single set of rules– exempting drivers from ELD requirements if they operate exclusively within 150 air-miles of their reporting location and complete their workday in 14 hours, ending the current two-tiered system
3. Reducing the current supporting documents burden for drivers to only verify the start and end time of a driver’s daily on-duty period
4. Accelerating the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s already-in-progress efforts to provide flexibility in how drivers who take off-duty periods in sleeper berths split their rest time.
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