After a trucker asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for a five year exemption from federal Hours of Service (HOS) and Electronic Logging Device (ELD) requirements, hundreds of members of the trucking community issued public comments in support of his cause.
Trucker’s Quest For Personal ELD & HOS Regulatory Relief
In a notice published in the Federal Register on August 19, truck driver Ronnie Brown III requested five years of regulatory relief for himself from many parts of federal HOS and ELD regulations, including the 10 consecutive hour off-duty time requirement, the 11-hour driving limit, the 14-hour “driving window,” and 60 hour in 7 day and 70 hour in 8-day limits, as well as the ELD rule. Brown requested the exemption for himself only
Brown, who says that he has operated commercial vehicles for 15 years, argued that HOS and ELD rules are a “one size fits all set of rules” that present safety concerns. He also argues that the impede on his “constitutional right to free movement.”
Brown said, “I can safely utilize my time in the loading and unloading docks to take naps during the process. I can safely drive and know when I am tired and do not push beyond my limits of safety no matter the amount of sleep I get or the length of drive time. I can maintain a safe distance from other vehicles no matter the situation on the road and have never had a preventable accident and only one non preventable accident in 2007.”
Truckers Tell FMCSA They Agree With Reasoning Behind Driver’s Ask
Since the FMCSA began accepting public comments on Brown’s request on August 19, more than 1000 public comments have been issued.
A majority of the comments appear to be supportive of Brown’s unusual request. Many of the comments come from experienced professional drivers who offer strong argument against current hours of service rules based on their own personal experience.
The comment period ends on September 19, 2022. You can follow this link to submit your comment.
See below for a sampling of the submitted comments.
“I agree with Mr Brown. I have been driving 26 years and feel that the blanket HOS rules impact my ability to make a living. Drivers who will drive tired will do so regardless. You can make a driver stop driving but you can’t make them sleep. I believe that implementing exemptions for drivers who qualify is fair and should be addressed. I will be following the results of Mr Browns request in hopes that it opens doors for safe drivers to regulate their own work schedule,” said William Evans.
“He’s not special. Follow the laws just like everyone else. I’ve been driving 27 yrs and switched over to the eld just fine. If you don’t like the laws, then find another occupation,” commented Patricia Holt.
“I have 40 years of experience on the road myself. I too feel like Mr. Brown these new ELD rules we lived under have been cumbersome, and have not made me feel like a safe driver some days. I started on paper logs, and felt it always left me in charge of my day. Stopping to take a break when needed, and sleeping when I was tired. Or gave me options to stop and wait out rush hour traffic in large cities. There for not losing the rest of my day sitting in traffic. I feel Mr. Brown has made many good points in application for the wavier. I support his request. And would hope that it could lead to opening a discussion about HOS rules, and ELD mandates,” Brian Tolle commented.
“I applaud Mr. Brown for his application and request. Truck drivers that have been in the industry longer than 5-7 years know their limits. We own 5 trucks and have had 5 accidents in 10 years, non of them being our fault. Motorists are distracted by their cell phones, passengers, and their own emotions. They whip in and out of traffic, slam on their brakes, among other things that cause wrecks with semis. I know our own drivers have hit the ditch to avoid hitting a motorist that cut them off. I do believe some drivers that do not have at least 3-5 years experience should have to follow HOS. However drivers that have not had an at fault accident and have 7-10 years experience should be granted more flexibility in HOS. I appreciate FMCSA offering this open comment period. The only way to improve the industry is through things like this,” noted commenter Kate Buckner.
“Mr. Brown, you are not special. The government has the inherent right to regulate any and all rights given by the constitution. Freedom of movement included. Please withdraw your request and stop being a delusional moron,” Kevin Swartzendruber wrote.
“I will have to agree with Mr Brown III……while I strongly agree that something needs to be in place to protect drivers from carriers that want them to drive 24hrs a day, I believe the system needs to be restructured. An electronic device cannot and never will be able to tell a driver when he/she needs sleep. You can’t force a living organism to live by an electronic device,” said David Wright.
“I hope he gets the exemption. I understand the need for all the guidelines but there truly are exceptions. Drivers that have many years of experience should be allowed to decide for themselves when to drive and when to sleep. Too many variables make the current guidelines difficult like wait time and available parking. Sleep when you’re sleepy, eat when you’re hungry. Owner operators with many years of experience should get exemptions or a different set of guidelines or maybe a choice of several different guidelines to better suit individual drivers,” said Becky Jensen.
“His points are all valid, and should be taken seriously by the FMCSA. One-size-fits-all is not a rational or sophisticated method for a government agency to show the public that it is “serious” about the “problem” of “safety”. The “problem of safety” has been studied long enough. The ELD mandate has intruded upon driver’s Constitutional rights long enough. The time has come for the pendulum to swing with considerable velocity towards the actual cause of the “problem of safety”, which is a complicated combination of badly-designed roads and improperly-trained (driving largely unchecked by law enforcement) 4-wheel drivers. Roads, all too often, are in deplorable condition, which adds exponentially to the wear-and-tear on commercial vehicles (as well as 4-wheelers). Commercial vehicles are monitored more rigorously for damage/wear than 4-wheelers, (how many 4-wheelers actually pop the hood of their vehicles routinely). How many 4-wheel drivers know how heavy a Class 9 rig can be on the highway, and more importantly how much time it takes a Class 9 at 80,000 pounds to stop safely? Maybe the FMCSA needs to light a fire under the NHTSA to blitz the largely ignorant driving public about the utter stupidity committed by 4-wheelers daily on the roadways of this country. The roads and highways of this country are my “office” as a professional CDL-A driver. I don’t go to these 4-wheeler’s office and cause problems. It’s about time that 4-wheelers stop coming to my “office” and cause problems. And dump the ELD and the “mandate”. Or prepare to be flooded with individual requests for exemption. Enough is enough,” wrote Paul Striker.