FMCSA Seeks Feedback on Current Hours of Service Regulations for Potential Reform

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced Tuesday, August 21, 2018 that it is seeking public feedback and relevant data from industry stakeholders to determine if certain hours of service (HOS) revisions may alleviate unnecessary burdens placed on drivers while maintaining safety on our nation’s highways and roads. The 30-day comment period will focus on four specific areas of the current hours of service regulations:

  1. Expanding 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
  2. Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions
  3. Revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after 8-hours of continuous driving
  4. 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 compartment

Earlier this year, the congressionally mandated electronic logging device (ELD) rule, which required most FMCSA-regulated motor carriers to convert their records from paper to an electronic format further shined the light on hours of service concerns voiced by a number of different industry stakeholders.

“It’s time to have an honest conversation about hours of service,” said FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez. “What we have been doing is listening to stakeholders in our regulated community over the last few months with regard to hours of service and what changes would they propose that would make sense and add flexibility. What we kept hearing was flexibility, flexibility, flexibility. We are a safety agency — that’s our focus. Everything we look at is through the lens of safety. So that is how we are approaching this: If we’re going to look at hours of service changes to add flexibility for the regulated community, as long as safety remains a priority, we’re willing to do that.”

While this is just a first step to potentially altering the current hours of service regulations, many industry stakeholders are hopeful. Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) President Todd Spencer voiced his opinion, saying, “The agency is finally listening and now the door is open for truckers to make their voices heard and to spur real, common-sense changes to the hours-of-service regulations.” American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Chris Spear said his group is, “pleased to see that Secretary Chao and Administrator Martinez recognize the need for sensible, data-driven hours-of-service reform.”

The FMCSA will formally announce its intentions in an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to be published in an upcoming issue of the Federal Register. The first in a series of public listening sessions on the ANPRM will take place Friday, August 24, 2018, in Dallas, Texas, at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time.  Further information is available here.

Here at Odyssey, we are monitoring the on-going situation and agree with FMCSA’s goal of potentially alleviating unnecessary burdens placed on drivers while at the same time maintaining safety for everyone on the road.