FMCSA Considers Tweaks to Hours-of-Service Regs

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on Aug. 21 announced that it is seeking public comment on revising four specific areas of the federal rules that govern truck driver's sleep and rest, also known as Hours of Service.

As the trucking industry continues to adjust to the electronic logging device mandate that went into effect late last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on Aug. 21 announced that it is seeking public comment on revisions to four specific areas of the federal rule that governs truck drivers' sleep and rest, also known as Hours of Service.  

Areas under consideration for revision include short-haul operations, adverse driving conditions, 30-minute break and split sleeper-berth. The comment period is open for 30 days.

FMCSA said that ELD compliance with the use of electronic logs "has reached nearly 99 percent across the trucking industry." But the mandate "has also brought focus to HOS regulations, especially with regard to certain regulations having a significant impact on agriculture and other sectors of trucking." 

The use of ELDs has long been a divisive issue for the trucking industry as fleets and owner-operators disagreed over the merits of switching to automated log books from paper and pencil.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has long held that electronic logs represent regulatory over-reach and will allow dispatchers to pressure drivers to stay on the road. The American Trucking Associations (ATA), which represents motor carrier fleets, maintains the rule will further enhance industry safety.

OOIDA in mid-February filed a petition with FMCSA urging it to initiate an HOS rulemaking and pushed for changes to the 14-hour duty clock as well as the elimination of the 30-minute rest break. The petition was filed after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a lawsuit challenging the Department of Transportation's ELD rule.

In its Aug. 21 announcement, FMCSA said the four specific areas under consideration for revision are:

  • Expanding the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty, in order to be consistent with the rules for long-haul truck drivers;
  • Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions;
  • Revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after 8-hours of continuous driving; and
  • 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 compartment.

FMCSA will hold a public listening session in Aug. 24 in Texas at the Great American Truck Show and said it wants ELD vendors to "participate to address potential implementation issues should changes to the HOS rules be made."

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