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Trucking industry to FMCSA: We just want flexibility with HOS

John Schmitz, an owner-operator who runs oversized equipment, speaks during the FMCSA’s Listening Session on hours of service at the Great American Trucking Show on Friday.

If there is just one word that can best sum up the official Listening Session on hours of service (HOS) that FMCSA held on Friday at the Great American Trucking Show, it would be flexibility. Speaker after speaker told agency representatives, including Administrator Ray Martinez, that all they wanted from the HOS regs was flexibility to do their job, and do it safely.

Dick Pingel, an owner-operator and board member of the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) who has accumulated over 4 million miles of accident-free driving in his lifetime, told the FMCSA panel that the 14-hour rule penalizes him every time he takes a break. Looking back, Pingel said that 15 years ago – the last time FMCSA changed the HOS rules – the industry was looking for flexibility with the regulations and what it got was a mandated 30-minute break.

“Maybe if the Administrator listened then, we wouldn’t be having this discussion today,” he said.

On Friday, Martinez was joined on the panel by Joe DeLorenzo, director of enforcement and compliance; Jim Mullen, chief counsel; Larry Miner, associated administrator for policy; and Wiley Deck, director of governmental affairs. Beyond a short presentation by DeLorenzo breaking down the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) issued by FMCSA earlier this week and a few opening statements by Martinez, the panel mostly remained quiet listened to the industry.

When Martinez took the job six months, he promised the industry he would listen. In regards to HOS, it appears he may be.

“All I kept hearing is we need more flexibility in hours of service,” he said in his prepared remarks. “In government, you have to move forward in a [formal manner] and the way to do this is with an ANPRM, where we put on paper the four corners [of regulation].”

The ANPRM issued on Aug. 21 is seeking comment on five questions related to hours of service. Martinez and DeLorenzo both stressed that the ANPRM is not a formal regulation, and may not even lead to a regulation, but is the way for the agency to gather industry feedback on proposals. That feedback can help formulate a potential rule. In this particular case, the ANPRM has put forth a 30-day window for comments – a very short period that Martinez said he hopes “indicates to the industry that we are serious about this.” The window could be extended, and a representative from TruckerNation, which submitted a petition along with OOIDA to push for changes to HOS rules, said the group would be filing for an extension of the comment period.

The ANPRM seeks comments on these five questions:

 

1.     Should the window for short-haul drivers be extended from 12 to 14 hours?

2.     In the case of adverse weather conditions, should the exception be expanded to include the 14-hour work day window?

3.     Is the 30-minute rest break necessary or should it be eliminated?

4.     In terms of split sleeper, are there alternatives that would make the sleeper berth options more effective?

5.     Are there any comments on the OOIDA or TruckerNation petitions?

 

Briefly, TruckerNation’s petition calls for the ability to break up the driver’s 10-hour break as they see fit – 5 and 5, 6 and 4, 3, 3 and 4, etc. OOIDA is asking for the 14-hour clock to be extended an additional 3 hours of off-duty time that the driver can use as they see fit.  

Both groups have asked for the elimination of the 30-minute break.

Comments to the ANPRM can be submitted online at the official docket, which can be accessed at FMCSA-2018-0248 on regulations.gov.

Most of the speakers at the Listening Session agreed that the 30-minute break should go, and nearly all believed the rules need more flexibility, although some were in favor of extending the 14-hour clock and others were not. Those who opposed an extension, though, aligned themselves with TruckerNation’s approach in changing the way the 10-hour break is mandated.

“We believe professional drivers should be allowed to use their professional judgement and use their 10-hour break like 10 dollars,” Andrea Marks, from TruckerNation, said, noting that drivers should be able to use the time as they see fit.

John Schmitz said the HOS approach can’t be a one-size-fits-all solution.

“We’re trying to put everybody into a box and make sure we’re all in the same box,” the owner-operator said. Schmitz believes the rules should reflect the diverse needs of the industry’s various segments.

Several speakers noted that providing flexibility within the 10 hours would eliminate the need to have a required 30-minute break, with one driver, named Ricky, noting that drivers don’t drive for more than 3 or 4 hours at a time anyway before stopping to “reset their minds, reset their eyes.”

Gary Hull, who was in attendance representing Truckers for Cause, said the rules need to consider sleep hygiene and allow drivers to stop when they need to and “don’t penalize them” for doing so by keeping the clock ticking.

Bruce Bush is also in favor of more flexibility in regards to split sleeper options that stops the 14-hour clock and the elimination of the 30-minute break.

“I don’t think we need to mandate it because we’re going to take it during the day to use the bathroom, get a something to eat, so we’re going to take it anyway,” he said.

Several commenters who operate in short-haul operations, which are subject to a 12-hour work day and not a 14-hour day, noted the addition of 2 additional hours could be significant for their operations.

“Our guys, they only drive about 5 hours a day,” explained Bob Schapar, compliance manager for a rental equipment company. “They are in and out of the truck and sometimes they don’t want to take a lunch because they’ll be waiting at a customer [and eat while they wait]. But sometimes, if they hit that 12 hours with the ELD, suddenly they are in violation [not taking a mandated 30-minute break].”

Audrey Klotz, a compliance manager at a construction company that uses the short haul exemptions to move equipment from location to location, says the 12 hours can be problematic for her operation.

“Even utilizing the short-haul exemptions, we have a very difficult time getting our drivers out of their seats in 12 hours,” she said, adding that drivers are usually only on the road for 6 hours a day, but spend time waiting at sites, loading and unloading, etc. The additional two hours may help prevent this.

Steve Davenport summed up the event best, saying that “there’s 24 hours in a day and you should allow people over the road to plan their day [in the safest way possible].”


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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and fleetowner.com. Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.

17 Comments

  1. Telling me ive only got 11hrs to deliver my load,and i might need 12hrs you people making the rules just put the screws to me.i have to run a company not all areas give you that perfect scenerio that you think is adiquit.quit playing with our lives.i have no problem protecting the worker with laws against abuse.you people dont leave any leway for getting truck worked on or washed on weekends it counts against my clock to mack a living.the more you fluff this along you messing with peoples retirements.

  2. The 30 minute break is a total waste I used to stop 3 or 4 times in my 11. Now I push to make it past 5.3 hours before I take a break so I don’t lose miles. If I use up my 3 hours off getting loaded or unloaded that 30 minutes takes away miles and dollars. There are days I can only sleep 5 or 6 hours then I lay there awake for the rest. We need the break but not 8 or 10 hours straight.

  3. Do whatever you clowns (fmcsa, ata, csa) want to. You have distorted the facts for so many years now it isn’t even funny anymore. You touted safety safety safety safety safety, 26 lives saved, safety safety safety, when you were sitting at your damn desks or on the crapper dreaming up this monstrosity not having ANY idea or knowledge of how this vastly different and complex industry is. And NOW, you want to get idea’s or suggestions from US, to help you find a way to fix it? Are you efin kidding me?

  4. The only thing the FMCSA has done since implementing the new rules with the ELD and the hours of service is complete chaos! They basically threw the baby out with the wash water!
    All they have added is complete chaos when trying to find a parking spot at truck stops and added to traffic congestion during peak hours of rush hour and allow themselves a brief rest period! Not to mention the fact of forcing the drivers to drive fatigued while racing the clock up to the point up when the driver is required to take a mandated 30 minute break! The driver themselves know when they need a break, when feeling fatigued, more so than what the computer dictates to them when it’s time to break! That in itself is a major safety issue forced Upon Us by the FMCSA!!!!!
    There are so many difference applications that apply to the trucking industry on how trucks are utilized for the Mass variety of different jobs that are performed buy different trucks each day across this country and which a lot of these rules shouldn’t even apply to! We have Long Haul Trucking Coast to Coast, we have short-haul Trucking which people don’t even leave the state, and sometimes not even leave the county, and we have trucks that do nothing but local City work and sometimes not even leave the job site itself! Yes, these hours of service definitely need to be revised with different parameters set for different applications of work that these trucks and drivers perform!

  5. FMCSA/FMCSR/DOT/Scales/Weights/
    Measurements/OOIDA/Board-This/Board-That/Meeting-This/Meeting-That/Speaker here/Speaker there…Lets hear from you, the driver that delivers the little red shoe 5 states away.
    Really? As long as Big Brother has a hand in it this is will be a vehicular regulated industry descending to one demise and like none other. 1984 air traffic controllers, nationwide, was not this terrible. Go get get your own little red shoe.

  6. While I was sleeping in my truck,at rest near Lammar,PA
    DOT wake me up and start doing DOT inspection.WTF.is that for.also in Marshal ,TX onother DOT gringo wakes me up at friken truck stop when I was trying to take my Time in Sleeper.and start yealing why I want explanation why he is waking me up.I almost end up bitted up and taking to jail.He is saying why I dont habe lilbit more respect to his officer.He didnt even explained that I didmt say any word of upseting anybody at all…so.If is inaf truck stops and restberias why in the world trucers parking on side of streets and getting tickets in midle of the night.we not driving ford escord or fiat 127.this is a havy dutty piece of machinery gringo’s.it takes 24 hours of work to get that 10 hours break im sleeper think about it…If you think they loading you right away at shipper you are completally insaine.if ypu think that way.why drivers are upset becouse when you get in shop to fix it truck there.they not talking about $19.99 or $29.99…bills are in tousands of friken dollars…if I can make inaf after broker takes his meet as fifth involved party.we get bone.i would be borowing money from my onkel to biy new tires.Halo….were is the money from big truckers income going to.I wont even start how many truck drivers getting divorced not making inaf money to pay friken bills….o.yes we dont want here this becouse somebody als has diferent opinion.yes.but were is health insurance for truckers come from.I am working us truck driver .driving friken 80000 pounds machinery behind my back for who.?to not having insurance to rest of my life.I dont know about you but is anybody folowing Trump .ye.to not pating taxes and buying plane and paying insurance.yes we my try to be honest more here.dont make started.

  7. Q1-no,, company’s don’t run the 60hr rule, they use the 70 hr rule. There for they force workers to run 13-14 hrs day and pay %.. no ot pay for employees..short haul ..Q2-no,, no driver needs to be in adverse weather driving fatigue.. Q3- eliminated.. Q4- none..Q5 – truckers nation—-good,,,ooida—-bad

  8. I think that if the 14 hour rule goes to 17 hours it should be used for rest only but for the others that stay with in the 14 on duty sould be able to use the 14 as we see fit. Also do to the cost and limited parking spaces we have now I feel that we need to get rid of the 70 hour rule and personal conveyance should be as follows with empty trailer to the nearest safe haven and if you are with in 500 mile from your home and you had only been on duty for 8 hours that day and even though we are on personal conveyance we should be able to continue for another 8 hours if we are being off duty for over a 24 hour period.

  9. Go back to the old way of doing it to get AMERICAS FREIGHT DELIVERED,AS LONG AS 10 HR.SLEEPER BIRTH IS SHOWN IN 24 HOUR CLOCK AND QUIT TRYING TO MAKE IT SCIENTIFIC AND USE PLAIN COMMON SENSE.ALL THIS B.S.FOR LAST 18 YEAR HAS BEEN ABOUT IS TRUCK DRIVERS PAYING FOR THE 50 STATES REVENUE AND BARELY MAKING INNS MEAT FOR THEIR FAMILIES.

  10. How about we go back to what we had before they took our hours away remember back in the day when the truck stopped so did the clock we had to take a 10 Hour drive with an 8hour bed I’m not so concerned that we have to do the 10 and the 8 what I’m concerned with is that they stop the F-in clock doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure it out we weren’t having these problems they can communistically track us all day long but just stop to F-in clock.

  11. I need to know where to write to them about this. I want to write a letter. These hours of service are ridiculous! All anyone has time for is drive and sleep. If we need groceries, attend Church, stop by to visit family, need to wash laundry, we’re pretty much out of luck on the hours

  12. In the 1700’s it was the English that tried to control our lives – telling us what to do and when. In the 1800’s it was the Yankees doing the same thing. How did either of those attempts at control work out? Here we are again. How do you think it is going to work out this time? We build the greatest civilization on this planet without being micro managed. Get out of our lives and let us continue to build.

  13. In the 1700’s it was the English that tried to control our lives – telling us what to do and when. In the 1800’s it was the Yankees doing the same thing. How did either of those attempts at control work out? Here we are again. How do you think it is going to work out this time? We build the greatest civilization on this planet without being micro managed. Get out of our lives and let us continue to build.

  14. In the 1700’s it was the English that tried to control our lives – telling us what to do and when. In the 1800’s it was the Yankees doing the same thing. How did either of those attempts at control work out? Here we are again. How do you think it is going to work out this time? We build the greatest civilization on this planet without being micro managed. Get out of our lives and let us continue to build.

  15. In the 1700’s it was the English that tried to control our lives – telling us what to do and when. In the 1800’s it was the Yankees doing the same thing. How did either of those attempts at control work out? Here we are again. How do you think it is going to work out this time? We build the greatest civilization on this planet without being micro managed. Get out of our lives and let us continue to build.

  16. In the 1700’s it was the English that tried to control our lives – telling us what to do and when. In the 1800’s it was the Yankees doing the same thing. How did either of those attempts at control work out? Here we are again. How do you think it is going to work out this time? We build the greatest civilization on this planet without being micro managed. Get out of our lives and let us continue to build.

  17. Of course the 14 hour rule is the problem, and has been the problem since it’s inception. And absolutely split sleeper berth time is a must…
    News flash Mr DeLorenzo and Mr Martinez!!! …. We don’t need electronic tattletales and a time clock. And we don’t need our intelligence insulted every time you come up with a new idea to control the trucking industry and label it "safety"……we already know what to do.

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