On August 21, 2018, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced in an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) that it will be seeking public comments on possible changes to four specific areas of hours-of-service (HOS) regulations:
- Expanding the current 100 air-mile short-haul exemption from 12 hours on duty to 14 hours on duty
- Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limit by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions
- Eliminating or revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after 8-hours on duty
- Reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks that are equipped with a sleeper berth
Stakeholders seek flexibility with HOS
In a telephone news conference regarding this ANPRM, FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez noted that the agency has continuously received requests like these to provide carriers and drivers with additional flexibility. The FMCSA also noted in the ANPRM that the ability of electronic logging devices (ELDs) to accurately record HOS compliance has prompted both Congress and the public to ask for such revisions.
Comments also sought on private petitions
In addition to the four areas noted, the ANPRM will seek public comment on two recently submitted petitions requesting that the HOS rules be amended by:
- Prohibiting a truck driver from driving after 14 hours of on-duty time (allowing the stoppage of the on-duty clock with the use of off-duty time) and allowing the of use multiple off-duty periods of three hours or longer in lieu of having 10 consecutive hours off duty (filed by TruckerNation).
- Allowing truck drivers to take a rest break once per 14-hour duty period for up to three consecutive hours if the driver is off duty, effectively stopping the 14-hour clock (filed by the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association).
Trucker Nation and OOIDA both also petitioned the FMCSA to eliminate the 30-minute rest break requirement.
The ANPRM lists multiple questions regarding the areas outlined above that it would like the public to address in its comments, including:
- How would a 14-hour period change your driver or carrier operations as compared to 12 hours? What would be the economic impact?
- Is there adequate flexibility in the existing adverse driving conditions exception?
- If the 30-minute rest break rule did not exist, would drivers obtain adequate rest breaks throughout a daily driving period to relieve fatigue?
- What cost impacts and safety benefits would result from different split sleeper-berth options?
While there is no guarantee that carriers will see any or all of the HOS changes being discussed, it’s important to remember that the ANPRM was prompted by feedback from stakeholders. Likewise, public comment on these areas and the questions posed by the FMSCA will influence next steps.
The comment period
The comment period will officially open on August 22, 2018, when the FMCSA publishes the ANPRM in the Federal Register. The comment period will remain open for 30 days.
Comments can be submitted via the federal eRulemaking portal (www.regulations.gov). Comments should reference Docket Number FMCSA-2018-0248.
Public listening sessions
In addition to soliciting comment via the ANPRM, FMCSA plans on holding a series of public listening sessions on these issues. The first will be held at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas on Friday, August 24.
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