Drivers take aim at 30-minute rest break provision in HOS comments
September 30, 2019
A notice of proposed rulemaking that would significantly change hours of service for truckers continues to draw lots of input from the industry.
Nearly 6,900 comments have been filed so far, according to the docket at Regulations.gov.
Comments can be made until Oct. 21.
On Aug. 22, FMCSA published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register that included five main changes to the hours of service.
- 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.
Many of the most recent comments on file from drivers focused on eliminating the 30-minute rest break.
“I find myself in constant rush to get to a place where I can safely park a large truck for 30 minutes. Especially when I drive the majority of the time in Seattle traffic,” Mark Eitemiller wrote. “I am in violation of 30 minute (b)reak often. Constantly racing the clock, even pushing when tired because the 14-hour requirements don’t allow me to stop for a nap or an unhurried meal.”
Driver Phil Killerlain, an OOIDA member, called the 30-minute break, “the most worthless piece of the current hours … which more than half of drivers take while sitting in the truck counting off the minutes till they can leave.”
“If this was to include the use of on duty times and split into two separate times it would then make sense,” he wrote. “Right now it is the cause of some fuel island troubles as drivers block up the fuel lanes not wanting to start the clock back up, (d)elaying others that want to go.”
Another driver and OOIDA member, Bill Taylor, echoed concerns that the mandatory rest break causes more problems than it solves – particularly when it comes to finding a place to park when parking is in short supply.
“The hardest part of the 30-minute break presently is finding a place to stop for 30 minutes in congested areas,” writes Taylor, an owner-operator since 1989. “This is one of the reasons that the fuel islands at truck stops are full of trucks not getting fuel but, taking their mandated 30-minute breaks.”
OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh made public comments during a listening session hosted by FMCSA Sept. 17, in Washington, D.C. Pugh’s remarks focused on arguments that additional flexibility for drivers to make decisions about when they start or stop their trips will lead to an increase in highway safety.
“OOIDA fully supports the proposal because it allows drivers more opportunity to rest when they are tired, to stay off the road during adverse conditions, to avoid congestion and to give drivers more control of their schedules, which will improve highway safety,” said Pugh, who was a truck driver for 22 years with more than 2 million safe miles.