The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has publicly confirmed that there are major changes coming to the current Hours of Service (HOS) regulations that semi truck drivers have to follow.
At the Omnitracs Outlook conference held in Dallas, Texas, on February 25, FMCSA head Ray Martinez officially confirmed during a speech to a crowd of approximately 800 that his agency is at work on changes to HOS regulations for truck drivers. While the FMCSA has hinted that changes could be coming for HOS for several months, this is the first time that the agency has publicly confirmed that these changes will happen.
“I am pleased to report at this juncture, given the quantity and the quality of the comments, that I can announce that we are moving forward to a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM),” Martinez told attendees at the conference. Martinez did not offer any details about the type of HOS changes that could be coming or when those changes could arrive.
In August of 2018, the FMCSA asked for public comment on HOS regulation reform and received thousands of responses from the trucking industry as well as the public at large.
Specifically, they asked the public to weigh in on four specific areas of HOS regulation:
- 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.
The FMCSA also asked the public for comment on two petitions:
- An Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) petition that would allow drivers to take up to a three hour off-duty rest break during a 14 hour day period. OOIDA’s petition also asks for the elimination of the 30 minute rest break.
- A Trucker Nation petition that would “revise the prohibition against driving after the 14th hour of the beginning of the work shift, allow drivers to use multiple off-duty periods of three hours or longer in lieu of having 10 consecutive hours off-duty, and eliminate the 30-minute rest break requirement.”
The FMCSA received 5,262 comments on these proposed changes to HOS regulations.
“I will say that given the great feedback and the quality of the comments received from industry and from stakeholders and from safety advocates, that we are very, very excited about the prospects of moving forward,” Martinez told conference goers.