OOIDA: New language in Boozman amendment key to getting HOS right

| Monday, March 07, 2005

During this week's House debate on the highway bill, Rep. John Boozman of Rogers, AR, will offer an amendment that will allow truck drivers to take up to two hours of breaks that will not count against their 14-hour daily clock. Brand new language in the amendment will add critical “teeth” to the HOS rules, according to OOIDA.

“This amendment gets to the heart of the fatigue matter,” says OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “The hours that are wasted at loading docks, etc., are what the agency must focus on to address the real hours issue with drivers. It is absolutely a necessity. The language just added to the amendment is key to getting this right.”

That language says, “No person shall require or coerce a motor carrier or its employees to falsely record their duty status as ‘off-duty’ for any activities defined by the secretary as ‘on-duty.’”

Earlier this year, Rep. Boozman introduced HR 623 to provide truckers with additional off-duty time and increased flexibility under the hours-of-service regulations. The congressman has stated that “we do not have the right to say that truck drivers don’t have time for meals or rest breaks. We don’t do this in other industries, and we certainly shouldn’t require it for a job where safety is so important.”

The OOIDA Board of Directors has recently voted to support HR 623. The text of that legislation will serve as the primary source for the congressman’s highway bill amendment. Boozman is working with the association to find ways to ensure that drivers are not pressured into using the additional break time for uncompensated work.

The final language of the Boozman amendment as it will be submitted to the Rules Committee is:

To allow an operator of a commercial motor vehicle breaks in a daily tour of duty.

SECT. 4135 - BREAKS DURING DAILY TOUR OF DUTY.

Section 31502 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

‘(f) Breaks During Daily Tour of Duty - Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an operator of a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle shall be permitted to operate such vehicle and perform other work-related activities at the end of the 14th hour from the time the driver begins duty, for a period of time for which the driver has been off-duty during the 14-hour period, not to exceed a total of 16 hours.’

‘(g) No person shall require or coerce a motor carrier or its employees to falsely record their duty status as “off-duty” for any activities defined by the secretary as “on-duty.”’

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