AUSTIN, Texas – The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is committed to fast-tracking a review of the hours-of-service rules.
Jim Mullen, chief counsel for the FMCSA, gave attendees at the American Trucking Associations (ATA) Management Conference & Exhibition, an update on the agency’s review of the hours-of-service (HoS). The regulations are under review after the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate virtually eliminated cheating and allowed the agency to get a more accurate look at how the regulations are working.
Mullen said the FMCSA has been listening to the industry, through listening sessions across the country, and the 5,200 comments that were submitted in response to an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM). The ANPRM precedes a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), and the comment period for that ANPRM closed several weeks ago. Mullen said the administration will respond to each of those comments, though not individually.
“What we are doing now is going through all 5,200 comments and we will and must reply to all 5,200 comments in one shape or form,” he explained.
If, after those comments are reviewed, the FMCSA decides to proceed with changes to the hours-of-service rules, it will issue an NPRM, which will detail those proposed changes. Another comment period will follow. It can be a lengthy process.
“When we started this process, we had an internal dialogue on how long does it take to get a rulemaking from start to finish?,” Mullen said. The conclusion was 36-40 months. “That’s not going to work,” Mullen said. “We are expediting this process – we’re not giving up any of the diligence, but we have sufficient studies already conducted in the past.”
He would like to see any changes finalized within 12-14 months. Five aspects of the hours-of-service rules are currently under consideration for updates. They include: whether to eliminate or modify the 30-minute rest requirement; whether to allow more flexibility in splitting sleeper berth time; whether to change the definition of shorthaul from 100 miles to 150 miles; to better define adverse driving conditions and to potentially allow added time to apply to the 14-, 60-, and 70-hour clock; and whether to allow drivers to stop the clock within their 14-hour day and add those hours back to create a 17-hour day.
“We are trying to get through this as quickly as possible without jeopardizing the integrity of the process,” Mullen said. “We want to make sure the regulated industry and other stakeholders know we are moving along.”
Mullen encouraged attendees to monitor the FMCSA website and social media for updates.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies