Transportation Trucking Federal agencies Hours of service

Chao confirms: Proposed rule to amend trucker hours-of-service regs sent to OMB for review

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Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on March 28 submitted for review to the White House Office of Management and Budget a notice of proposed rulemaking intended to add flexibility to FMCSA’s hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers.

Speaking the next day at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced the measure, appeasing a long-sought wish of numerous industry groups and stakeholders.

“While I can’t go through the specifics of this proposal, let me note that the department understands the strong interest in increasing flexibility and is giving it serious consideration,” Chao said. “Once the NPRM is published in the Federal Register, the department looks forward to receiving your comments and feedback. So stay tuned.”

Chao said more than 5,200 comments were submitted on an advance notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Aug. 23 Federal Register. Potential changes to HOS regulations include:

  • Expanding the current 100 air-mile short-haul exemption to 14 hours on duty from 12 hours on duty, to be consistent with rules for long-haul truck drivers.
  • 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 eight hours of continuous driving.
  • Reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks equipped with sleeper berth compartments.

Further, the agency weighed input on separate petitions requesting FMCSA to:

  • Allow covered commercial motor vehicle operators one rest break – for up to three consecutive hours – during every 14-hour on-duty period (filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association).
  • Allow covered CMV operators to use multiple off-duty periods of at least three hours in place of taking 10 consecutive hours off duty (filed by TruckerNation.org).
 

In a March 29 press release, OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer applauded Chao and others “for hearing the concerns of our members.”

“We have long supported efforts to reform and modernize hours-of-service regulations,” Spencer said in the release. “Current regulations are overly complex, provide no flexibility, and in no way reflect the physical capabilities or limitations of individual drivers.”

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