FMCSA to open debate on HOS regulations

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is moving forward with plans to solicit public comment on current hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. The agency will formally announce its intentions in an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to be published in an upcoming issue of the Federal Register.

The ANPRM is seeking to address concerns industry and drivers have with the current regulations and see if there are revisions that can be made to the current rules to “alleviate unnecessary burdens placed on drivers while maintaining safety on our nation’s highways and roads.”

The comment period will be open for 30 days following publication of the notice.

FMCSA is specifically considering:

  • Expanding the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty, in order to be consistent with the rules for long-haul truck drivers;
  • Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions;
  • Revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after 8-hours of continuous driving; and
  • Reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks that are equipped with a sleeper-berth compartment.

In addition, the ANPRM seeks public comment and relevant data on two recently submitted petitions requesting regulatory relief from HOS rules (1) pertaining to the 14-hour on-duty limitation (filed by the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association) and (2) pertaining to the 10-hour off-duty requirement (filed by TruckerNation).

 OOIDA has been pushing for changes to the regulations for more flexibility. Since the hard enforcement date of April 1 for ELD devices, the rigid nature of HOS rules – specifically the 14-hour clock – have become a more noticeable problem for many.

“OOIDA got this ball rolling with our petition, constant grassroots outreach from our members, and the relentless efforts of Congressman Brian Babin,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said. “Our members have continuously told federal officials that current regulations are overly complex, provide no flexibility, and in no way reflect the physical capabilities or limitations of individual drivers.”

OOIDA’s petition asks that drivers be allowed to take rest breaks once per 14-hour period for up to three consecutive hours as long as the driver is off-duty and the elimination of the 30-minute break requirement.

In March, U.S. Rep. Babin proposed a bill that would extend the 14-hour clock by up to 3 hours by adding in off-duty time.

“The agency is finally listening and now the door is open for truckers to make their voices heard and to spur real, common-sense changes to the hours-of-service regulations.  This rulemaking needs robust participation from real truckers so that the next incarnation of the hours-of-service regulations is not written by corporate trucking executives and anti-trucking groups that have no understanding of the realities of over-the-road trucking,” said Spencer.

Additional information on the ANPRM, including how to submit comments to the Federal Register docket, is available at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-service-advanced-notice-proposed-rulemaking.