It’s been no secret that the transportation and logistics industry has been unhappy with the current Hours of Service regulations. A few months ago the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published proposed changes to the rules. Now, the revised HOS regulations are taking another step towards being made final. Acting Administrator for the FMCSA, Jim Mullens, announced that the rules had finally been sent to the White House for approval.
“After carefully reviewing these comments, I am pleased to announce today that Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is moving forward with a final rule on Hours of Service and that the agency has sent a final rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review,” Mullen said during the 82nd Annual Truckload Carriers Association. “While I can’t go into the specifics of this final rule, please know that the goal of this process from the beginning has been to improve safety for all motorists and to increase flexibility for commercial drivers.”
There is typically a 60-90 day lapse between submission to the OMB, which is part of the executive branch of the U.S. federal government, and the time it is released as a final rule. This timeframe may be extended if there are further changes made.
The trucking industry has long been critical of the current HOS rules. Drivers and operators believe that they are not flexible and do not account for real-world delays such as traffic, weather, or long waiting times at loading docks.
Currently, truck drivers are limited to 11-hours of driving time within a 14-hour on-duty window and are required to take 10 consecutive hours off duty before starting again as well as a 30-minute off-duty break if they will be driving more than 8 hours. These regulations are intended to make roads safer by addressing driver fatigue.
However, the lack of flexibility not only costs drivers and carriers money, but it is also placing drivers in dangerous situations. Now that all trucks are monitored with ELDs, drivers are forced to stop on the sides of highways or in areas without adequate parking in order to comply with regulations.
The new proposed changes address a number of these issues, creating more flexibility. The transportation industry has been applauding the FMSCA about the new regulations since they were first proposed months ago.
“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 past American Trucking Association (ATA) Chairman Barry Pottle. “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 Trump Administration has been open to altering the HOS regulations in the past, which means the outlook on the new rules getting approved is promising. Now the industry will just have to wait and see whether the new changes will be approved or if there will be further deliberations.