On April 25, the long-awaited proposed changes to the hours-of-service rules were made public. U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater and Julie Ann Cirillo, acting deputy administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, announced the notice of the DOT's proposed rulemaking at a press conference in Washington, DC.
The rules propose switching the current system to a 24-hour clock - 12 hours on, 12 hours off (with two days off every seven days). The proposal divides the industry into five segments based on type of operation. The first segment will consist of long-haul drivers regularly on the road three or more consecutive nights. The second segment is regional drivers who are regularly away from home less than three nights in a row. The other three segments are short-haul categories and include local pick-up and delivery; split-shift and drivers whose primary job is not driving (utility workers, etc.).
The feds announced that longhaul operations would be required to use onboard electronic recorders to track driver hours. Cirillo said the onboard devices would cost about $500, would be used for enforcement purposes and warned there would be fines for tampering.
Next comes the 90-day period of public commentary. The FMCSA will hold a series of meetings in cities across the nation to allow truckers and other interested parties to make comments. The actual rule is not likely to be final until the middle of next year. Watch the OOIDA web site (www.ooida.com) for locations, times and dates of the meetings.