FMCSA Expected to Release Hours-of-Service Rule Soon

Land Line Magazine, the official publication of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), reports that Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Administrator Ray Martinez recently testified before a Senate Committee that he expects the agency’s notice of proposed rule-making for revised hours-of-service (HOS) regulations to be published soon. He did not, however, provide a date.

“I do believe we are in the final stages of the process, and I’m hopeful that it will be in short order,” Martinez said during a hearing of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. “I hesitate to put a date on it.” FMCSA’s proposed rule continues to be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). OMB allows for up to 90 days of review for proposed rules and allows for one 30-day extension. Land Line notes that there is no assurance a rule will clear. A proposed speed-limiter rule was under review at OMB for more than a year before being killed.

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao acknowledged recently that a notice of proposed rule-making regarding hours-of-service had been sent to OMB for review on March 28. Chao did not provide details of any proposals, but did promise that FMCSA had listened to truck drivers’ requests for more flexibility within the rules.

The Senate hearing was called to examine implementation of the FAST Act, which expires in 2020, and DOT prioritizes as Congress prepares for surface transportation reauthorization. Martinez told lawmakers that the electronic logging device mandate, which took effect in December 2017, highlighted areas of the current hours-of- service regulations that may need to “adjust or improve.”

OOIDA reviews that FMCSA issued an advance notice of proposed rule-making in August 2018. The agency held five public listening sessions and received more than 5200 comments. The message from truck drivers was clear: drivers want more flexibility within HOS. “Please know that we want to provide greater flexibility for drivers while maintaining the highest degree of safety as we move forward with this work,” Martinez said. “We look forward to receiving comments on our proposal and then moving forward to quickly make the needed regulatory changes.”

(SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, July 8, 2019)