FMCSA announces long-awaited proposed rule to amend trucker hours-of-service regs
Washington — After numerous delays, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has unveiled a highly anticipated proposed rule the agency claims would add flexibility to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers.
Announced in an Aug. 14 press release, highlights of the proposal 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.
- Allowing covered commercial motor vehicle operators one rest break – for up to three consecutive hours – during every 14-hour on-duty period.
- Allowing covered CMV operators to use multiple off-duty periods of at least three hours in place of taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.
“FMCSA wants drivers and all CMV stakeholders to share their thoughts and opinions on the proposed changes to hours-of-service rules that we are putting forward today,” FMCSA Administrator Raymond Martinez said in the release. “We listened directly to the concerns of drivers for rules that are safer and have more flexibility – and we have acted. We encourage everyone to review and comment on this proposal.”
Comments will be due 45 days after the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register.
FMCSA received more than 5,200 comments on an advance notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Aug. 23, 2018, Federal Register. The agency submitted the proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget on March 28, and a Department of Transportation regulatory update released in May indicated June 7 as the target publication date.
When that date passed, a new DOT regulatory update released in June targeted July 31 as the publication date. The anticipation continued as OMB kept the proposed legislation under review into August.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and TruckerNation.org – which long petitioned FMCSA for HOS reform – are among the groups expressing optimism about the development.
OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer called the announcement “a big step in the right direction” to “give drivers more flexibility and, ultimately, improve highway safety,” in an article published Aug. 14 in OOIDA’s Land Line magazine.
“Thanks to all of you who took the time to engage; our voices have been heard, and the industry and FMCSA have listened,” TruckerNation posted on its Twitter account on Aug. 14. “Flexibility in HOS is now a reality.”
Additionally, the American Trucking Associations lauded Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Martinez and FMCSA.
“We look forward to studying and understanding how these proposed changes will impact our industry so we can provide relevant data and information to strengthen and support a good final rule that bolsters safety and provides drivers needed flexibility,” ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said in an Aug. 14 press release.
International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa voiced his opposition, however, emphasizing in an Aug. 14 press release the “serious concerns” the labor union finds with the proposal.
“In an effort to increase so-called ‘flexibility’ for trucking companies, the FMCSA is abandoning safety and allowing drivers to push themselves to the limit even further,” Hoffa said in the release. “Changes for short-haul truckers, for example, would extend their days from 12 to 14 hours on the job. That means a longer and more exhausting workday for tens of thousands of American workers. The Teamsters are also concerned about language changing the 30-minute rest break and the ability of drivers to press the pause button on their hours of service clock.”