U.S. truck-safety leader promises hours of service proposal by the end of summer

LAS VEGAS (June 11) — Progress on hours of service reforms in the United States is heating up as quickly as a summer day in Vegas.

At a town hall meeting with truckers at the International Trucking Show here, Office of Motor Carriers and Highway Safely director Julie Cirillo said that proposed new rules on hours of service would be ready by summer’s end, and called on the trucking industry to help create a workable solution.

A negotiated rulemaking is not likely, she said, but some sort of negotiation is needed to keep all the stakeholders involved: “We are trying to figure out how we are going to engage the community in the process,” Cirillo explained.

She said many ideas are on the table, including holding “listening sessions” for industry and other stakeholders. A recommendation will go to DOT Secretary Rodney Slater “shortly,” she said.

Among the proposals under consideration are reforms that would include different standards for different kinds of operations — but Cirillo warned that such a universal solution might be too complex.

One hot-button issue is the use of onboard recorders to track drivers’ working hours. Cirillo believes they would work well for keeping driver logs for a large part of the industry — but not for every kind of operation. “I don’t know that … we will mandate onboard recorders, but I certainly think that they are a positive step towards managing hours of service and improving safety.”

Cirillo emphasized many of these same issues at a town hall meeting on hours of service held Wednesday at the International Trucking Show in Las Vegas. While she stopped short of saying that onboard recorders would be mandated, she did say there could be some sort of incentives developed for their use, such as a tax break or allowing drivers with the recorders to drive longer hours.

Todd Spencer of the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association was very outspoken at the town hall meeting against the use of onboard recorders.

For his small business members, he said, they are simply not financially justified. In addition, he said, they don’t prevent fatigue.

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