The U.S. Department of Transportation announced this week that proposed changes to hours of service (HOS) regulations will be formally published in the federal docket on June 7.
The department’s latest “Report on DOT Significant Rulemakings” shows the comment period for the final proposed rulemaking ending on July 26, with changes going into effect at a later date.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) confirmed the posting, but noted that the HOS regulations are still under review by the Office of Management and Budget. “The timeline included in the Department’s April regulatory update reflects FMCSA’s goal to move quickly during this rulemaking process and the Agency is hopeful that goal will be achieved,” an agency source said.
The proposed changes are expected to bring flexibility relief, particularly to independent owner-operators who have complained that the current rules do not mesh well with electronic logging devices, which became mandatory in April 2018.
“I can tell you the Department understands the importance of giving you the flexibility [to do your jobs],” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao told attendees at the Mid-America Trucking Show in March.
The FMCSA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which was published in August 2018 and extended to October, generated more than 5,200 responses. The agency also held five listening sessions around the country for more input on how HOS provisions could be improved. FMCSA sought comment specifically on:
Whether to expand 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.
Whether to extend the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
Whether to revise the mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after 8 hours of continuous driving.
Whether to reinstate 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.
FMCSA also sought comment on two petitions requesting relief from HOS rules, one relating to the 14-hour on-duty limitation, filed by the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association, and the other to the 10-hour off-duty requirement, filed by TruckerNation, a driver advocacy group.