Despite delay due to shutdown, hours-of-service reform nearing

February 13, 2019

Greg Grisolano


The status of a potential rulemaking that would reform hours-of-service regulations for commercial drivers was a hot topic of conversation between executive leadership of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and regulators with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

A delegation of OOIDA representatives, including Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh, met with FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez and other top officials with the agency on Wednesday, Feb. 6. OOIDA updated the agency on its priorities and received feedback from regulators.

At the top the list was an update on the status of an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking that could have major impact on hours of service. While the 35-day government shutdown from December 2018 Jan. 25, 2019, didn’t affect FMCSA directly, Pugh says it still caused hiccups for moving the rulemaking forward.

“Even though FMCSA wasn’t shut down, government officials that they needed to move that through … weren’t working because of the shutdown,” he said. “(FMCSA officials) are still focused on expediting the process.

Pugh said he recalled in his initial meeting with Martinez that the administrator was focused on reaching out to drivers for their input in the regulatory process.

“One of his big things he wanted to know was how many members (OOIDA) had and how do we communicate with our members,” he said. “Because, he said, ‘I want to be able to communicate with truckers. I want to be able to hear from truckers and make a dialogue that goes back and forth.’”

The open-door approach led to Martinez and other FMCSA staffers embarking on a series of listening sessions to hear from truckers about changes to hours of service, including one session during the 2018 Guilty By Association Trucking Show in Joplin, Mo.

Other regulatory topics of interest included a discussion about increasing the number of hours of training required under the entry-level driver training requirements that will become effective in 2020 and an update on FMCSA’s Crash Preventability Pilot Program.

Pugh also said the OOIDA D.C. team met with members of Ohio’s congressional delegation, including Reps. Troy Balderson, Bob Gibbs and Bill Johnson, as part of the Association’s efforts to meet with lawmakers at the start of a new legislative session. He encouraged other members to communicate with their lawmakers and their staffs, something he says is a vital component of OOIDA’s advocacy.

“As we all know, the government works very, very slowly, and it seems like your calls and your letters and all that stuff just falls on deaf ears sometimes,” he said. “But at the end of the day… we do have the voices. We do have the people. We do have the votes. And at the end of the day, that’s what’s most important to those people on Capitol Hill.”