FMCSA Issues Listening Session Announcement on HOS Proposals

January 27, 2011

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced a "listening" session for comments from the trucking industry on the proposed Hours of Service (HOS) changes.

The listening session will be broadcast over the Internet and will be held in ArlingtonVa. on February 17th.

You can find the online link for the broadcast here - TruckertoTrucker.com FMCSA HOS

In addition, comments will also be accepted through the online website from midday to midnight of February 17th (all times Eastern Standard Time).

The proposed HOS is in response to "perceived" improvements in road safety. We have covered the HOS proposals before and you can see that commentary by following the link.

Broadly, the new HOS proposals are thought to include:

  • an increase in rest hours;
  • a decrease in driving hours; and
  • one or more compulsory rest breaks per shift.

The detailed proposals can be found at teh FMCSA wesbite by following the following link:

Truckertotrucker.com FMCSA HOS proposals

While the FMCSA's stated objective is to improve trucking safety on the roads, there is evidence which demonstrates that the existing HOS have improved the trucking industries safety record in the last 5 years. Imposing a more stringent HOS regime is simply reducing the operational efficiency of the trucking industry with no real return in reducing accidents. At some point the law of diminishing returns will come into play.

It is important that individual truckers make their voices heard. The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) issued a preliminary response to the HOS proposals which essentially states that there is more to trucking road safety than simply how long a driver is behind the wheel. The FMCSA is probably better spending its time and resources on looking at other areas of road safety instead of fixating on HOS (which it appears to be doing).

Experienced truckers are going to realize the importance of getting HOS right.

It is not unusual for on Over The Road driver to spend considerable amounts of time waiting to pick up loads (OOIDA cites as much as 40 hours a week for some truckers). How the HOS proposed rule changes are going to impact upon this fact of trucking life is essential for operators small and large. OOIDA also makes some excellent points about HOS rules and the need for flexibility:

  • truckers must be able to exercise discretion as to when they are fit to drive - if a trucker is feeling tired, they should be allowed to stop driving and take a rest break within the 14 hour driving period but without incurring a further, artificial and arbitrary rest penalty;
  • create realistic rules for split-berth and team operations; and
  • taking into consideration the downtime associated with loading and unloading.

The proposed HOS rules will come into force sometime after the summer of this year.

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