FMCSA moves toward reform of hours-of-service regulations

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line associate editor | Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is eying changes to the hours-of-service regulations.

FMCSA sent a prerule to the Office of Management and Budget for internal review on Tuesday, Aug. 14. However, the details of the proposal haven’t been made public.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said on Aug. 15 that it supports efforts to modernize hours-of-service regulations and looks forward to an anticipated advance notice of proposed rulemaking from the FMCSA.

Many of the Association’s 160,000 members have argued that current regulations are overly complex, provide no flexibility, and in no way reflect the physical capabilities or limitations of individual drivers.

“We know that these messages have struck a chord with lawmakers and with the agency and that the response is to look closely at the regulations and the need for reform,” said OOIDA President Todd Spencer.

OOIDA also has requested more flexibility within in the hours of service to account for adverse weather conditions, rush-hour traffic, and when a driver is tired.

“The hours-of service regulations for commercial truck drivers need to be updated to match the realities of freight movement and to truly improve highway safety,” Spencer said. “The trucking industry is in a situation where we have never had more regulations and greater enforcement and compliance. Yet, truck-related crash numbers are going in the wrong direction. It’s time for a new approach.”

In February, OOIDA submitted a formal petition regarding hours of service to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the FMCSA. The petition recommended that drivers be allowed to take rest breaks once per 14-hour period for up to three consecutive hours as long as the driver is off-duty. It also suggested eliminating the 30-minute break requirement.

Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, also introduced HR5417, the Responsible and Effective Standards for Truckers (REST) Act, in March. The bill shares the same main elements as OOIDA’s petition.

“We look forward to the agency’s response to our petition and to seeing what they recommend in their notice,” Spencer said. “We think our proposal is a solid start, but we are open to ideas in how to make the regulations into something that is truly safe and addresses the flexibility needed for long-haul truckers.”

 

 

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