FMCSA seeks comments on split sleeper, 14-hour rule, 30-minute break

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Updated Aug 25, 2018

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration today announced it’s seeking public comment on revising several provisions of its hours-of-service regulations.

“The upcoming Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), which will be published in the Federal Register, responds to widespread Congressional, industry, and citizen concerns and seeks feedback from the public to determine if HOS revisions may alleviate unnecessary burdens placed on drivers while maintaining safety on our nation’s highways and roads,” the agency said in a statement published on its website.  The comment period will be open for 30 days.

Four major trucking organizations are praising the FMCSA’s announcement.

The 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
  • 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

The first in a series of public listening sessions on the ANPRM will take place Friday, at 3 p.m. at the Great American Trucking Show at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas.  Further information is available here

In addition, the agency seeks public comment and relevant data on two recently submitted petitions requesting regulatory relief from HOS rules (1) pertaining to the 14-hour on-duty limitation (filed by the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association) and (2) pertaining to the 10-hour off-duty requirement (filed by TruckerNation).

On Tuesday FMCSA administrator Ray Martinez said, “It’s time to have an honest conversation about hours of service. What we have been doing is listening to stakeholders in our regulated community over the last few months with regard to hours of service and what changes would they propose that would make sense and add flexibility. What we kept hearing was flexibility, flexibility, flexibility.”

A statement from the Truckload Carriers Association said:

“The Truckload Carriers Association is pleased to see that FMCSA will be collecting data from the public, particularly on sleeper-berth flexibility, adverse driving conditions, and the 30-minute rest break, to create stronger rules which advance safety on our roads and cater to the actual environments in which our drivers live and work. TCA plans to submit comments on this ANPRM and we will be active throughout this rulemaking process to continue telling our story of the truckload industry.

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“TCA would like to thank Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, FMCSA Administrator Raymond Martinez, and the entire FMCSA staff for their dedicated work to improve regulations and remove unnecessary burdens hindering the free flow of commerce in this country. FMCSA would not have been able to issue this ANPRM without the efforts the agency and industry have already done to move forward with the industry-wide ELD mandate. Because of ELDs and the information they’ve collected, FMCSA will be able to enact data-driven policy reflecting flexibility to address the true problems faced by trucking.”

The American Trucking Association’s President and CEO Chris Spear issued the following statement:

“ATA is pleased to see that Secretary Chao and Administrator Martinez recognize the need for sensible, data-driven hours-of-service reform. While today’s notice is just the first step, ATA stands ready to work with drivers and motor carriers to provide FMCSA and DOT with the information they need to make needed, common-sense improvements to the hours-of-service rules in order to improve the safety of our highways and the efficiency of our industry.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s President Todd Spencer said:

“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.”

Dan Furth, president of the National Tak Truck Carriers said:

“NTTC welcomes proposals to modify the hours rules. The regulatory process means that we can ensure that any changes keep highway safety as our industry’s number one priority.”

In its announcement, the FMCSA said, “Earlier this year, the congressionally mandated electronic logging device rule, which required most FMCSA-regulated motor carriers to convert their records from paper to an electronic format, became effective. While compliance with the ELD rule has reached nearly 99 percent across the trucking industry, it has also brought focus to HOS regulations, especially with regard to certain regulations having a significant impact on agriculture and other sectors of trucking.

Additional information on the ANPRM, including how to submit comments to the Federal Register docket, is available here.

Information on current HOS regulations is available here.