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Proposed changes to trucker hours-of-service regs expected ‘in short order,’ FMCSA administrator tells Senate

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Washington — The publication of a proposed rule intended to add flexibility to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers is expected soon, on the heels of a recent delay, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration head Raymond Martinez said during a June 19 hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

A Department of Transportation regulatory update released in May initially indicated June 7 as the target publication date for the proposed rule, which was submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget on March 28. However, an FMCSA spokesperson confirmed in a June 7 email to Safety+Health that the proposed rule remained under OMB review.

“I really do believe that we are in the very final stages of that process, and I’m hopeful that it will be in short order,” Martinez said in response to a question from Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE).

The hearing focused on the implementation of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, which expires at the end of fiscal year 2020, as well as DOT priorities as Congress braces for surface transportation reauthorization.

 

Later in his testimony, Martinez addressed a potential FMCSA pilot program that would allow drivers 18 to 20 years old to operate interstate commercial motor vehicles. Federal regulations currently permit drivers as young as 18 to operate CMVs in intrastate commerce only.

“It deserves a good, hard look now, because things have changed,” Martinez said in response to a question from Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL). “We have new technologies that may be able to monitor and tell us not all drivers under 21 are the same.”

A similar FMCSA pilot program introduced in July 2018 is open to current and former military personnel between the ages of 18 and 20. To be eligible, drivers must have undergone specified heavy-vehicle driver training while in service and be sponsored by a participating motor carrier.

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