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FMCSA chief Martinez: regulatory changes might be possible for HOS rules

After coming from the Mid America Trucking Show last week where by his own admission he received a significant amount of ELD-related hostility, new FMCSA administrator Raymond Martinez had a quieter first public appearance a few days later.

Martinez gave a speech to the Truckload Carriers of America meeting near Orlando which covered the usual array of topics one would expect: safety, cooperation and the ELD mandate. There were no questions taken, and no hecklers, so there was no repeat of the MATS conflict.

But the one statement during that address that could have been viewed as somewhat newsworthy was when he said he was “all ears” in addressing not so much the ELD mandate itself, but the presumably stricter need to comply with Hours of Service regulations as a result of the greater precision of data coming out of ELDs.

In an exclusive interview with Freightwaves after his TCA speech, Martinez—on the job for all of four weeks—said he did not want to specify what changes in the HOS rules might be considered. Getting suggestions “is what I was hoping for at the MACT,” he said. “It didn’t end up that way. You get three or four people who get the microphone and they rail against government in general.”

Martinez emphasized that he understands “the frustration and the passion, but from where I sit, I can’t make law.” However, there may be regulatory changes that could be undertaken by FMCSA to relieve some of the biggest pain points in the combination of the HOS rules and the possibility of stricter enforcement of them as a result of ELD data.

Detention on his mind

And while Martinez emphasized a second time in the interview that he could not be specific about any possible changes, when asked if there were any issues that had been cited frequently while on his listening tour, his answer was succinct: detention.

“When people tell me they are on the clock and they are stuck, when they say ‘I was there for 3, 5, 6 hours,’ well, I’m not sure how that happens, but I’m sure it does,” Martinez said. “Are there abusers of the systems were folks are being put in that position on a regular basis? That is something we need to know.”

The “aggressive listening” that Martinez said he is undertaking does not expect to get “a unanimity of opinion, but I’d like some consensus,” he said. He has received recommended steps from various 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.”

Martinez said any sort of regulatory process to change a regulation, short of changing a law, would probably take a year to implement. “You don’t want to open yourself up to a challenge in the courts,” he said. “You can only have certain latitude and the regulatory process is not short.”

On the coming implementation of the full ELD mandate this Sunday, Martinez said in his speech to the TCA general session that the data he has seen indicates that roadside enforcement reveals that there is 96% compliance with the mandate. Asked if that meant that the sort of hostility he faced at MATS represented a minority, he replied yes but said “that doesn’t mean their position is not worth listening to.”

There also is no reason why full ELD compliance may not be causing other issues. A truck could be in full compliance with the ELD mandate, but with less flexibility the HOS rule could still be creating difficulties for the trucker. Martinez alluded to that reality when he said that while the goal is to get to 100% ELD compliance, that may reveal “other inefficiencies,” like issues with detention. “These are things we need to get a full understanding of,” he said.

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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.

32 Comments

  1. U.S. foods is a big one for detention 7 to 8 hrs at times!!!
    In Phoenix Az. And Greensburg PA.

  2. ALL OF THE GROCERY WAREHOUSES ARE DETAINERS, ALL OF THEM. WHY CAN’T THE SHIPPERS PUT BAR CODES ON THE PALLETS OF PRODUCT, AND HAVE THE RECEIVER’S OFF LOAD THE PRODUCT, SCAN THE BARCODES, SIGN THE PAPERWORK AND RELEASE THE TRUCK AND DRIVER. BUT NO, WE HAVE TO SIT THERE, WAIT FOR THE HIGH PRICED LUMPERS OFF LOAD, AND THEN SEPARATE THE PRODUCT, AND THEN WAIT FOR A RECEIVER TO MANUALLY COUNT, AND RECOUNT THE PRODUCT. BEFORE THEY SIGN THE PAPERWORK, AND RELEASE THE TRUCK AND DRIVER. KEEP IN MIND, THE RECEIVERS ARE HOURLY EMPLOYEE’S, AND COULD CARE LESS IF WE HAVE TO WAIT, FOR THEM, TO GET THEIR LUNCH, GET THEIR BREAKS, AND MOST OF THE TIME THEY ARE SLOW AS HELL TO START WITH. THE ENTIRE TIME, WE ARE SITTING IN OUR TRUCKS TRYING TO KEEP WARM, OR COOL, WASTING OUR ELD MANDATE TIME, WE CANNOT SHOW BUNK TIME, OR GO OFF DUTY. IT’S A TOTALLY CRAP SYSTEM THAT NEEDS UPDATING, AND FORCES THE RECEIVING CUSTOMER TO OFF LOAD, AND RELEASE THE TRUCK AND DRIVER, ASAP.
    THE SYSTEM WAS BAD BEFORE THE ELD, AND NOW IT’S WORSE, AND THE INDUSTRY WANTS TO KNOW WHY NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WANTS TO DRIVE A TRUCK FOR A LIVING ANY LONGER…JUST SAYIN!

    1. You are right but also wrong. You absolutely can log sleeper or off duty while they unload you. It still goes against your 14 day though.
      I go off duty as soon as I pull up to customer and fuk the FMCSA. Just don’t get up to 5mph when moving aroung the dock area.

  3. Apparently he wasn’t listening. MANY people said 14 hour consecutive clock has to go away. Media is definitely misrepresenting the meeting the first day. I WAS there.

  4. The SAD part of this unthought out mandate, is the designers and the ones that voted for it, have NEVER been in a truck or drove one for a living. They don’t understand we are not robots and the sitting on docks waiting to load or unload is totally out of our control. They also forgot about the traffic, weather and other factors. The eld mandate is the absolute stupidest law ever pushed down our throats. The cost of the law is going to be a sky rocket of the price of everything that is shipped by truck, so that is everything.

  5. This man is bought and paid for by the mega-carrier. It is a "minority view" that ELD’s are killing our productivity. 100% compliance is his goal.

  6. This asshole is the entire problem with trucking and government control. These turds make laws governing how we can work and the dumbasses don’t even know what detention is or even believe how it affects us.
    I’m fed up with their stupidity. I’m buying a nearly new truck with a blown engine and putting an older ECMless engine in it.

    1. Thats what we did. Have a 2013 T660 with a N14 Cummins in it now. Since the ISX Cummins locked up. Also got another N14 sitting in the floor for the next truck that locks up.

  7. Another idiot in a position that he knows nothing about the trucking industry the real Trucking industry not what the big carriers want you to believe it is you need to talk to someone will tell you the truth not lies about real life as a trucker

  8. Change the HOS simler to the old rules 11hr driving 8hr consecutive off to back your 11hr stop the clock when off duty. 34hr reset and alot of the Hart burn will go away.

  9. Don’t worry. We’ll just keep the pedal to the metal. We’ll keep bobbing and weaving thru traffic. We’ll continue to Debo all the lil 4 wheelers that get in our way as we race the clock. We’ll keep the highways clogged up during the morning rush hour since the entire industry runs the same hours now. Yeah the rollover and fatality rate will spike but HEY since no one seems to realize that that 14 hr clock is hindering the public’s safety we continue to drive like the fast and the furious.

  10. Back in the days of paper when one would go to a dock, especially a grocery warehouse, one was allowed to be on duty for 15 minutes and then go off duty or in the sleeper for the remainder of the time because you were released of any duties while the truck and trailer were locked to the dock and the DOT Never had any qualms about that!
    And as someone stated earlier, once you start the clock it’s just a race to get from point A to point B no matter how fatigued the driver gets! Has anybody noticed all of the single truck accidents along the interstate system where you know the driver just fell asleep because there’s no skid marks leading to the marks that he leaves in the median or the ditches!

  11. Another Government Official, that knows nothing about what he is the head of. 2,3,4,hr’s+++, "being stuck somewhere", happens every day that you have to go to 1 or more docks. 10 state workers fixing a pothole, can screw up a day. They cannot tell me that almost every truck has speed up. Drivers getting more aggressive as the sand runs out of the (14) hour glass. All in the name of safety, BS, government control.

  12. This fuking people don’t know what is drive to put food on the table….. that’s going to be more sleep drivers on the road whit them fuck ELD

  13. They need to get a full understanding that all eld is doing is allowing a driver to legally kill someone if he/she is tired and don’t have enough sense to pull over and nap just because that damn computer says you have hours to drive doesn’t mean your psyically or mental fit as far as being tired to do so… So did they solve anything hell no…. it’s just now if you drive tired no one can say you illegally killed someone even though you were too stupid to pull over and rest…. Come on dude use your head use a common sense approach as. Trump would say!!!!

  14. My wish list. Let the 30 minute rule ne cumulative. 2 15 minute breaks. You could do 20/10 whatever adds up to 30. Let road drivers have the same 16 hour exception that domiciled drivers get. The adverse weather exception should apply to the 14 hour rule as well as the 11.

  15. If the FMCSA, by it’s own admission, does not have a good understanding of how the HOS affects carriers and shippers, who in their right mind would enact laws that affect it?

  16. It would be easier for 100%no eld, then 100 % compliant, we had paper logs for many years and we’re still here, the ELD is causing destruction to the industry, pushing out the small Trucking company and the American way, and turning American government into a dictatorship, and creating a monopoly for the big trucking companies, and huge profits to the utility companies such as Qualcomm and cell phone companies, it’s obvious that money is buying politicians, and they’re destroying the backbone of America the trucking industry.

  17. Yes he is ridiculous the driving a truck is the only occupation in the United States that you can’t work overtime. As a child I was told that I found a job I like and work hard at it I get ahead in life if I work hard and driving a truck I’ll go to jail. How is that fair ???!!!
    There never has been and never will be a shortage of drivers in this country shortages in companies that treat drivers properly

  18. Do 13hours driving 8 hours sleep then 3 hours on duty not driving and no more problems

  19. I think the only companies that should be on electronic logs are the ones with a high safety score.

  20. Elds have taken income away and make drivers put more time in for less income.the hours of service needs to change the 14 hour clock.ive been driving 20 years back when we had the hos rule at 10hrs driving 8hrs sleeping in 24hr period and u could split sleeper time anyway u wanted as long as u had 8hrs sleepnin a 24hr period.that hos rule would work fine on elds but increase the driving time to 11hrs and sleeper time to 10hrs split anyway you want in a 24hr period and kill the 14 hr rule cause u on a eld so u dnt need it.it doesnt allow for delays drivers encounter like peak traffic hours congestion or wrecks or construction delays or shipper/reciever delays.

  21. 14 hours rule is the issue n that damn 70 clock i agree with 11 hr rule tho

  22. My revenue has dropped 18%. We need to be allowed to stop the clock !!! If we are sitting at a dock taking a NAP it does us no good when clock doesn’t stop!! Then when uncle sam says your time is up and it’s time for bed you can’t go to sleep that fast and in turn wake up sleepy.. Then start your day and 3 hours into your shift you get little sleepy!!! Before you could take a nap and be a safe driver now it FORCES A DRIVER TO DRIVE TIRED cause he knows that is time lost and revenue lost that he will not get back… Trucking is not a 9 to 5 job and you are trying to force us to be a robot.. And in return you are making it less safe being on the road… Not to mention team’s with them not being able to break up a shift makes it even harder on them.. You try staying in bed for 10 hrs while your bed is moving going down the road.. I have been Small fleet owner and O/O for 29 year’s…. Never have I been forced to drive sleepy until YOUR ELD MANDATE…. This is all ABOUT MONEY for ELD COMPANIES AND not public/driver safety!!!!

    Sincerely: Grumpy

  23. Your just a bunch of lying cheaters that need something to whine about.if you really want to make money you’ll figure it out and work at it as I have.i still have a problem once in awhile but it’s nothing I can’t figure out,I’m still making the same or more money as I was before.you see I used to do the same creative logging as all you do but its made me run legal now

    1. You could have run legal the whole time if you so chose. Who are you to dictate how everyone operates?

  24. By pushing a truck driver agains a clock the government commit a malfeasance crime.

  25. It’s lost revenue for us just so the mega carriers shareholders can get their increase in productivity at lower cost. And that equals safety how?

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