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Driver issuesNewsTrucking Regulation

Latest bill on HOS/ELDs may hint at what FMCSA is talking about on its listening tour

The latest bill to be introduced in Congress dealing with Hours of Service and ELDs takes on directly what appears to be a growing consensus that the area most ripe for change is the 14-hour rule.

Three members of the House of Representatives–two Republicans and one Democrat–are planning to introduce the HOURS Act, or the Honest Operators Undertake Road Safety Act. As of presstime, the bill was not available through Congress’ online archive of legislation.

At this late stage in Congress, with midterm elections just five months away, few observers expect any legislation regarding anything–including trucking–to get through the process and become law. There have been other ELD-related bills introduced in recent weeks. 

The bill to be introduced by Rick Crawford (Republican-Arkansas), Sanford Bishop (Democrat-Georgia) and Bruce Westerman (Republican-Arkansas) has four key components.

Most intriguing is that it seeks to put legislative backing behind an ongoing “listening tour” that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is conducting to study the impact of ELDs and possible modifications to the HOS rules. 

According to a statement of support issued by the American Trucking Associations, the bill would “accelerat(e) 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.”

FMCSA has not been that specific in revealing what it is discussing in the listening tours which often feature the chief administrator, Raymond Martinez. Still, a focus in these talks reportedly has been to seek the ability for a driver taking a lengthy rest break and using a truck’s sleeper berth–like in a several-hour detention–to stop the 14-hour clock. Sources said the inclusion of this language in the Crawford proposal could be a sign that talks on that issue are heating up, and a legislative fix may be considered alongside any regulatory changes.

The other provisons in the proposed legislation, according to the ATA statement on it, are as follows:

–Exempt drivers hauling livestock and agricultural products from the HOS rules is they are within 150 miles of the source of what they are hauling. FMCSA recently announced new guidance for that activity.

–Exempting shorthaul drivers from ELD mandates if they operate “exclusively” within 150 air-miles of their reporting location, while still being limited to 14 hours.

–Cutting down on the number of documents that need to be produced by drivers “to only verify the start and end time of a driver’s daily on-duty period.”

In the ATA statement, the group’s president and CEO Chris Spear said, “Congressmen Crawford, Westerman and Bishop have provided a roadmap for improving the current hours-of-service rules, while maintaining the safety of our highways. This narrow and targeted relief would improve the lives of millions of professional drivers and we ask Congress to support it.”

 

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.

One Comment

  1. I just keep wondering. If we can drive 11 hours a day. Shouldn’t we be on a 77 hours in 7 days log. And keep the 14 hour but go back to the old split sleeper rule. 4 and 6 or 5 and 5 it would give us the flexibility we need and relieve the driver shortage problem.

  2. Just a thought but EVERYONE who is complaining about the ELD and is voicing that they HAVE TO SPEED and BE UNSAFE as a result of the ELD should STOP AND THINK WHAT YOU ARE DOING TO YOURSELF AND THE REST OF US !!!!!!! In your comments about Speed and being Unsafe you are effectively giving the JERKS at the ATA and large companies the very comments that they need to now bring forward SPEED LIMITERS for trucks !!!!!!
    STOP AND THINK BEFORE YOY COMMENT and wind up costing us ALL MORE OF A HEADACHE than we already have !!!!!!!!

  3. ELD effects No parking day and night and no space diesel fueling time , night time park on shoulder no restroom early morning so much traffic every single driver drive fast because he don’t want stuck in city ? And big problem if I’m tired I can’t sleep because my log is on when I want to sleep then I have to drive . Long Driver job so hard because when we pic up the load ? really don’t know how long he take 7 hour 10 hour or more then what we do and same thing when deliver load . My serve 99 percent more accidents because we are drive under ELD

  4. I don’t think that it’s a good idea for the pencil pushers to be thinking in terms of slow ld/unld delays when examining the 14hr rule. The HOS aren’t meant to facilitate business.. They’re meant to ensure we’re rested.

    For argument, lets say there’s a new law pausing the 14hr clock when at a shipper. Your shipper ends up taking 6hrs to load you… (Very few of us will actually SLEEP during that time… )
    Now, bang-zoom… That shipper is off the hook for their slow pace, and YOU now have a 24hrs without sleep day.
    Like another commenter pointed out… If you have legal hours.. You’re expected to use them.. If you’re falling asleep at the wheel because of a slow load/unld? Its STILL not their problem.

  5. Do away with the ten hours break and make it an eighth hour break, get rid of the 70 hr rule. I personally don’t need a 34 hr break cause I sleep well during the week. And let us till we feel it’s time to go to sleep. I don’t need to be governed by the hos to know when it’s time to shut it down. I responsible enough to know that when I get tired, I go to sleep. There has been numerous times when I’ve had to shut down not being the least bit tired due to the dumb ass hos rule. In 40 yrs of driving a truck, not once have I ever fallen asleep behind the wheel nor have I ever, thank God, been in a wreck. And trust me, the hos hasn’t been the reason for me being safe out here. Knowing when to shut down and not driving like a reckless fool is how I’ve kept myself safe. So as far as I’m concerned, they could take their hos and shove them up their ass.

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