WASHINGTON D.C. – Hours of service (HOS) rules might be changing to add more flexibility says Federal Motor Carrier Safety (FMCSA) administrator Ray Martinez.
The FMCSA put out an advanced notice of proposed rule making and opened a 30-day comment period on HOS issues yesterday aimed to get input on the proposed changes from stakeholders and members of the public.
The proposed changes will come in four areas including expanding the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty; extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions; revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after 8-hours of continuous driving; and reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks that are equipped with a sleeper-berth.
The administration is also seeking public comment and relevant data on two recently submitted petitions filed by the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and TruckerNation. The petitions are requesting relief from the 14-hour on-duty limitation and the 10-hour off-duty requirement.
OOIDA President Todd Spencer says his group is proud they got the ball rolling on some of the changes being proposed and is looking forward to working with the FMCSA.
“Our members have continuously told federal officials that current regulations are overly complex, provide no flexibility, and in no way reflect the physical capabilities or limitations of individual drivers.”
Martinez says the proposed changes are coming after hearing from industry insiders who have asked for more room to maneuver through their day in light of increasing traffic, longer waits at docks and ports, and mandatory electronic logging devices.
“That’s what we kept hearing ‘flexibility, flexibility, flexibility,’” he said.
The FMCSA says it’s keeping the proposed changes as general as possible during the comment period to encourage those in the industry to give feedback and put forward ideas on what the final changes should look like.
In a press conference on the issue Martinez issued a reminder that there is no guarantee that the changes would go forward after the comment period and encouraged those with something to say to speak up during the comment period.
“We’ve got 30 days here where we’re really looking for people to step up,” he said. “This has been deliberately very non-specific to provide a framework… We want to see what kind of interest there is out there.”
As part of the public comment period the FMCSA will be hosting public listening sessions – the first is being held in Dallas, Texas on Aug. 24.
More information on the changes and how to submit comments can be found here.