Data review shows short-haul change won’t decrease safety, FMCSA says

August 16, 2019

Mark Schremmer

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Based on a review of crash data, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said its proposal to lengthen short-haul drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the air-mile radius form 100 to 150 will not negatively affect safety.

“Using data from the FMCSA Motor Carrier Management Information System, the agency analyzed concrete mixer crashes before and after the FAST Act allowed ready-mix concrete operators up to 14 hours to return to their work reporting location under the short-haul provision,” the FMCSA stated in its notice of proposed rulemaking. “A review of the MCMIS crash data found that extending the short-haul exemption from 12 to 14 hours did not statistically increase the share of concrete mixers involved in crashes.”

FMCSA’s proposed change to short-haul limits is one of five listed in the agency’s notice of proposed rulemaking.

The proposed rule is aimed at providing truck drivers with more flexibility within the hours-of-service regulations.

  • The limits for short-haul operations would increase from 12 to 14 hours and from 100 air miles to 150.
  • The adverse driving provision would allow a driver up to a 16-hour window within which to complete up to 13 hours of driving if the driver encounters adverse conditions.
  • The 30-minute break requirement would be modified, prohibiting driving for more than eight consecutive hours without at least one 30-minute change in duty status. This would allow 30 minutes of on-duty, not driving time, off-duty time, or sleeper-berth time to qualify as a break.”
  • In addition to splits of 10/0 and 8/2, drivers would be allowed a split-sleeper option of 7/3.
  • Drivers would have the option of stopping the clock a minimum of 30 minutes and up to three hours consecutively once per duty period.

The plan was announced Aug. 14, and the notice of proposed rulemaking is expected to publish in the Federal Register early next week. Once it publishes, there will be a 45-day comment period. Comments may be submitted to the Regulations.gov website by using docket number FMCSA-2018-0248.

Current regulations for short-haul operations permit a 12-hour work day with up to 11 driving hours. Passenger-carrier driers are allowed 10 hours of driving in a 12-hour workday.

Under this short-haul exception, drivers almost must operate within a 100 air-mile radius of their work reporting location.

Other property-carrying commercial motor vehicle drivers not using the short-haul exception have a 14-hour window in which to drive up to 11 hours.

There also are current exemptions to the short-haul operation provision. The FAST Act required that FMCSA allow drivers of ready-mixed concrete delivery trucks to return to the normal work reporting location within 14 hours of coming on duty. FMCSA implemented the provision in July 2016. Since then, FMCSA has granted exemptions to Waste Management Holdings, American Concrete Pumping Association, and National Asphalt Pavement Association.

Since the data from those exemptions did not reveal an increase in crashes, FMCSA proposes to increase the maximum allowable work day for property-carrying commercial motor vehicle drivers under the short-haul exception from 12 to 14 hours and air-mile radius from 100 to 150.

The amount of driving time would not change under the proposal.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said the proposed change makes sense.

“That will pretty much mate it up with the current exemption,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said. “That makes sense for a lot of reasons, and it also makes sense from the standpoint of enforcement. Again, simplification and flexibility.”

Before making the proposal a final rule, the agency wants feedback on several questions related to the short-haul change.

  • How will this change impact motor carrier’s ability to enforce hours-of-service rules? What enforcement difficulties may arise from expanding moth the time and distance requirements?
  • Will drivers drive further or longer in the driving window under the short-haul exception? Would this be different than these loads being hauled by drivers complying with ELD requirements?
  • Will the elimination of the 30-minute break requirement for drivers who are potentially driving later in their duty period impact safety?
  • What cost savings are expected from not having to comply with the ELD requirements?

Editor’s note: In the coming days, Land Line will take a look at each of the changes in FMCSA’s notice of proposed rulemaking on hours of service.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, staff writer, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.