Transportation Trucking Federal agencies Hours of service

Bipartisan group of senators to FMCSA: ‘Explore improvements’ to HOS rules

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Washington — A bipartisan group of 30 senators is calling for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Administrator Raymond Martinez to “explore improvements” to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers.

In a letter dated May 17, 27 Republican and three Democratic senators ask for more flexibility to HOS rules, including “allowances for unique businesses or driver operations” and better use of non-driving time.

“It is important that HOS regulations provide for a commonsense framework for drivers, rather than a one-size-fits-all model,” the letter states.

In February, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association petitioned FMCSA to allow covered commercial motor vehicle operators one rest break – for up to three consecutive hours – during every 14-hour duty period. “This rest break would effectively stop the 14-hour clock,” the association states in a press release. “However, drivers would still need to log 10 consecutive hours off duty before the start of their next work shift.”

Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) on March 29 introduced a bill, the REST Act (HR 5417), that would mandate just that. At press time, that legislation was with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Highways and Transit Subcommittee.

During his first appearance before that subcommittee on May 22, Martinez indicated he is open to exploring changes to HOS. “We are engaging with our stakeholders in the regulated community on this and safety advocates to see what would be acceptable.”

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said in an appropriations hearing on April 12 that she has encouraged legislation to clarify HOS requirements.

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