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Trucking HOS rule date pushed back to late October by FMCSA

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
May 31, 2011

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced that it will not meet its initial goal of publishing a new hours-of-service (HOS) rule—based on changes to the rule it proposed late last year—by its initial deadline of July 26.

The primary reason for the delay of the final HOS rule, which has now been pushed back to October 28, is because of four studies issued by FMCSA introduced during the HOS rule comment period that focus on the relationship between fatigue and driver safety:

  • The Impact of Driving, Non-Driving Work, and Rest Breaks on Driving Performance in Commercial Motor Vehicle Operations;

  • Hours of Service and Driver Fatigue-Driver Characteristics Research;

  • Analysis of the Relationship Between Operator Cumulative Driving Hours and Involvement in Preventable Collisions; and

  • Potential Causes of Driver Fatigue: A Study On Transit Bus Operators In Florida.

The comment period will remain open until June 8, an FMCSA spokesman told LM. The spokesperson added that the previous comment period before the final rule was extended was March 24.

Many industry concerns, including the American Trucking Associations, are skeptical about making changes to current HOS rules, which, they maintain work fine.

“Since the current HOS rules were introduced in 2003, the trucking industry has achieved a continually improving safety record, reaching the lowest fatality and injury rate levels in recorded history,” said ATA President Bill Graves, in a statement issued earlier this year. “It is troubling that this complex, restrictive set of proposed rules is founded on what appears to be incorrect analysis and inflated math.”

Among the proposed HOS changes introduced by FMCSA last December are:

  • lowering the maximum time on-duty within the driving window from 14 hours per day to 13 hours per day;

  • for the driving window, the standard driving window would remain at 14 consecutive hours and 16 hours no more than twice per week, with release from duty required at the end of the driving window regardless of length;

  • reducing the legal daily driving time from 11 hours to 10 hours although both 10 and 11 hours are both being considered;

  • under the current rules there is no limit on consecutive hours of driving, but the new rules would require a minimum 30-minute break after a maximum of 7 hours driving or working in order for a driver to continue driving; and

  • maintaining the 34-hour restart as part of the 60-to-70 hour weekly on-duty limit but the restart must include two periods between midnight and 6 a.m. and it may only be used once a week.

If these proposals become law, many industry stakeholders contend that they collectively will reduce the amount of time carriers have to move freight and hinder available trucking capacity.

“With the current rules accident rates per million miles are down, fatalities are down,” said Tom Sanderson, president and CEO of Transplace. “Arbitrarily choosing to take an hour out of available driving time makes no sense, and the 34-hour restart provision causes these anomalies of incremental lost productivity depending on when you deliver.”

In a December 2010 interview with LM, John Hausladen, president of the Minnesota Trucking Associations, said that these proposed new HOS rules keep daily driving time at 11 hours—for now, adding that this reflects the excellent safety record achieved by truck drivers over the past seven years. Hausladen also explained that the federal government couldn’t just ignore its own data, which shows that truck-involved fatalities dropping 33 percent, and the number of injuries declining 39 percent since 2003.

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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