Comments flooding in on HOS

By Jami Jones, senior editor | Thursday, February 17, 2005

FMCSA asked for specific comments on HOS and they are getting them – a lot of them. More than 650 comments have been filed on the current open docket.

In the notice of proposed rulemaking filed Jan. 24 by FMCSA, the agency asked commenters to specifically address the impact of the current HOS on drivers’ health.

Comments – mostly from individuals at this point – have varied in length and detail. But some common themes are beginning to emerge.

Give us a break
Many truck drivers commenting have pointed out their desire to have an opportunity for an “off-duty break.”

“One of the inherent problems with driving is that the driver is always fighting the clock,” OOIDA member Scott Boersema wrote in his comments. “A two-hour extension of the 14-hour rule should be allowed. This rule should be written in such a way as to allow the driver to spend the time either in the sleeper or off-duty so he could eat.”

Robert Burnich Sr., another individual who submitted comments, explained in his comments that under the current HOS drivers “are pushing it because we don’t want to run out of time.” He goes on to explain that when drivers run out of time, they are late and lose money. He wants FMCSA to “at least allow break time to stop the clock.”

Keith Lyman, a transportation manager out of Iowa, also jumped on the break-time bandwagon in his comments. “Reducing total on-duty time from 15 hours to 14 hours has not helped because the time drivers stop to take a break or sleep counts towards the total on-duty time, under the current HOS. It just encourages drivers to drive when they are tired,” he wrote

Accountability
Others commenting took the opportunity to try to get FMCSA to understand that compliance is tough when everyone in the shipping chain is not accountable.

“I’ve read of studies that show a driver can sit around waiting to load or unload 30-40 hours a week. This practice needs to stop. Shippers and receives need to be made more accountable for the time it takes to get in and out of their dock,” Gary Stoops wrote in his comments.

“Rules should be changed with employer accountability being #1,” Reinhart Waldner wrote in his comments.

John Daschke, director of safety for Bullocks Express Transportation, echoed that sentiment but took it a step further: “Each driver has to be accountable for the time management of their own health and well being while working as a professional truck driver; a company that employs these drivers either as employees or contract carriers (owner-operators), needs to offer a workplace that will be conducive in helping a driver towards that end result.”

Still time to comment
The current comment period will remain open until March 10. There are a variety of ways comments can be submitted:

Visit http://dms.dot.gov and then click on the “Comment/Submissions” button at the top of the page. You can choose to register for a user ID and password, or simply click on the continue button. You will be required to fill out some information on the next screen. The docket number you are commenting on is FMCSA-2004-19608. You may submit comments anonymously. Or you can:

  • Fax your comments to: (202) 493-2251; or
  • Mail them to: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh St. SW, Nassif Building Room PL-401, Washsington, DC 20590-0001.

A guide to the questions FMCSA presented in its rulemaking can be found here: HOW-TO-GUIDE: Want to comment about HOS?

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