(UPDATED Aug. 22) After months of complaints from industry tying new electronic logging device regulations for truckers on increased costs and shipping delays, the Trump administration is considering changes to its hours of service regulations.
“The introduction of electronic logging devices and their ability to accurately record compliance with hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for drivers of commercial motor vehicles have prompted numerous requests from Congress and the public for (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) to consider revising certain HOS provisions,” the agency said in the notice.
Enforcement of the electronic logging device mandate for truckers began April 1.
On Aug. 21, the FMCSA issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking public comment on four specific aspects of hours of service rules that the agency is considering changes:
- The short-haul hours of service limit;
- The hours of service exception for adverse driving conditions;
- The 30-minute rest break provision; and
- The split-sleeper berth rule to allow drivers to split their required time in the sleeper berth.
In addition to the four areas where the industry is seeking changes, the agency said it seeks public comment on petitions for rulemaking from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and TruckerNation.org.
The notice said OOIDA petitioned the agency to amend the hours of service rules to allow drivers to take a rest break once per 14-hour duty period for up to three consecutive hours if the driver is off-duty. OOIDA’s petition also requests that the agency eliminate the 30-minute rest break requirement which the agency had identified as an area of consideration for rulemaking.
“OOIDA got this ball rolling with our petition, constant grassroots outreach from our members, and the relentless efforts of Congressman Brian Babin,” OOIDA president Todd Spencer said in a news release. “Our members have continuously told federal officials that current regulations are overly complex, provide no flexibility, and in no way reflect the physical capabilities or limitations of individual drivers.”
Norita Taylor, director of public relations for the OOIDA said the 30-minute break requirement was not needed.
“We’re asking to get rid of the 30 minute break requirement because we have a lot of members that tell us that they spend more time looking for a place to park in order to comply with that requirement then they actually do filling that requirement,” she said Aug. 22
Seth Konkle, general manager of the Scotlynn USA Division of the Scotlynn Group, Indianapolis, Ind., said Aug. 22 he admired the fight OOIDA has brought to the issue.
“There needs to be a certain degree of flexibility in HOS rules for the mandate to accomplish what it set out to do, which is make the roads safer,” he said.
“Drivers deserve the opportunity to make it to a safe pullover area to take a break,” he said, adding that eliminating the 30-minute rest break requirement is a great place to start.
OOIDA said in the release that its members have expressed their concerns about regulations that “force them to be on the road when they are tired, during busy travel times and in adverse weather or road conditions.”
The group said drivers’ schedules are also at the mercy of shippers and receivers, in addition to other obstacles that create a conflict between operating both safely and in compliance with federal regulations.
According to the group, OOIDA’s petition wants 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. OOIDA also suggested eliminating the 30-minute break requirement.
“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 in the release. OOIDA also expressed support for proposed legislation that came soon after the group’s petition in February. Called “The Responsible and Effective Standards for Truckers,” (H.R.5417), also would allow drivers to take one rest break per shift, for up to three consecutive hours.
The single off-duty period would not be counted toward the driver’s 14-hour, on-duty allowance, according to the release. The legislation would not extend the total, allowable drive time limits and also seeks to eliminate the existing 30-minute rest break requirement.
Joe Carlon, president of Salinas, Calif.-based truck broker Joe Carlon & Associates Inc., said he hasn’t seen what the federal rulemaking will cover, but he said dealing with the issue of waiting times by truckers at shippers and receivers is essential.
“They need to think about situations where we’re bouncing around the same dock for hours on end,” he said. “We might spend the full 10-hour shift at one dock,” he said. Once the truck moves from the truck stop to the dock, the current rules start the clock on the driver, Carlon said.
The 150-mile exemption for agricultural loads isn’t understood or accepted, and enforcement of the electronic logging device mandate is inconsistent, he said.
A 500-mile trip with a straight load of produce doesn’t create problems with hours of service regulations, but a 3,200-mile trip with six pickups and a set delivery date is trouble, he said.
Spencer said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration needs strong input from “real truckers” so the next hours of service regulation “is not written by corporate trucking executives and anti-trucking groups that have no understanding of the realities of over-the-road trucking.”
TruckerNation petitioned the agency to revise the prohibition against driving after the 14th hour of the beginning of the work shift, allow drivers to use multiple off-duty periods of three hours or longer in lieu of having 10 consecutive hours off-duty, and eliminate the 30-minute rest break requirement.
Comments are due by Sept. 23, the agency said.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will have several public listening sessions concerning the potential changes to its hours-of-service rules for truck drivers.
The first in what the agency said will be a series of public events will be Aug. 24 in Dallas, at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, the agency said.