The American Trucking Associations was quick to express support for proposed changes to the hours-of-service rules as a way to improve safety on our nation’s highways while providing additional flexibility for professional drivers.
“(Transportation) Secretary Chao and (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) Administrator Martinez are to be commended for their commitment to an open and data-driven process to update the hours-of-service rules,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “We look forward to studying and understanding how these proposed changes will impact our industry so we can provide relevant data and information to strengthen and support a good final rule that bolsters safety and provides drivers needed flexibility.
The rule, released by FMCSA August 14, proposes several changes to the hours-of-service rule, but maintains the regulation’s core principles. Based on detailed public comments, FMCSA’s proposed rule on hours of service offers five key revisions to the existing HOS rules:
- The Agency proposes to increase safety and flexibility for the 30 minute break rule by tying the break requirement to eight hours of driving time without an interruption for at least 30 minutes, and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on duty, not driving status, rather than off duty.
- The Agency proposes to modify the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: one period of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than two consecutive hours, either off duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither period would count against the driver’s 14 hour driving window.
- The Agency proposes to allow one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than three hours, that would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour driving window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.
- The Agency proposes to modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.
- The Agency proposes a change to the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.
FMCSA’s proposal is crafted to improve safety on the Nation’s roadways. The proposed rule would not increase driving time and would continue to prevent CMV operators from driving for more than eight consecutive hours without at least a 30-minute change in duty status.
In Addition, FMCSA’s proposed rule on hours of service regulations is estimated to provide $274 million in savings for the US economy and American consumers. The trucking industry is a key component to the national economy—employing more than seven million people and moves 70 percent of the nation’s domestic freight.
“In the 15 years since the last major revisions to the hours-of-service, we as an industry have learned a great deal about how these rules impact our drivers,” said ATA Chairman Barry Pottle, president of Pottle’s Transportation. “The valuable experience and data we’ve gained over that time will make it easier to provide flexibility for drivers to get additional rest and find parking while keeping our highways safe.”
The public comment period will be open for 45 days. The Federal Register Notice, along with instructions on how to submit comments, is available here.