The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced it is seeking public comments on four areas of its truck driver hours of service (HOS) rules as well as input on petitions it received from two groups, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and, for specific HOS changes.

Citing the recent electronic logging device (ELD) mandate and the 99% compliance rate found during inspections, FMCSA said the time is right to review the HOS rules themselves.

This step is consistent with the Trump administration’s direction for all federal agencies to reduce regulatory burdens by allowing more flexibility in achieving the regulations’ goals, in this case motor carrier and public safety on the highways. FMCSA acknowledged that communication from Congress as well as comments by several trucking industry groups had underscored a desire for more HOS flexibility.

The four HOS areas for public comment include:

  • 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 (currently, only the 11-hour driving time can be extended under adverse 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 noted that a limited number of commercial drivers will participate in a scheduled pilot program examining the impact of various split sleeper berth times beginning this fall.

FMCSA has published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), in which it is asking 25 specific questions in these four areas for input from the public.

An ANPRM is used by the agency to seek facts, data and information upon which it may build an actual rulemaking proposal. If a proposed rule change does result, it would be published as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, known as an NPRM.

FMCSA is also seeking public comment on a petition to extend the 14-hour on-duty time by up to three hours for rest breaks taken during the workday and second petition to allow multiple rest breaks in lieu of the current mandate of 10 consecutive hours off-duty.

The comment period ends on Oct 10, 2018. You can read the ANPRM on the FMCSA website or in the Federal Register.

Post updated on Sept. 19, 2018 to reflect FMCSA extending the deadline from Sept. 24, 2018 to Oct. 10, 2018.