HOS reform lauded by group of lawmakers

November 11, 2019

Mark Schremmer


Twenty-one members of Congress recently reached out to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to express their support for the agency’s notice of proposed rulemaking regarding hours-of-service reform.

In a letter dated Oct. 31, the lawmakers, who included Reps. Brian Babin, R-Texas, and Roger Marshall, R-Kan., said FMCSA’s proposed changes would give truck drivers more flexibility and improve highway safety.

“The agency’s proposed changes appropriately reflect the concerns commonly expressed to us by stakeholders throughout the trucking industry,” the letter stated. “Not only would the reforms put forward by FMCSA provide truckers the flexibility they need, they would improve safety on our nation’s roadways.”

HOS reform plan

FMCSA’s notice of proposed rulemaking featured five main changes to the hours-of-service rules:

  • 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.

FMCSA said the goal of the changes is to provide more flexibility to drivers, providing them more opportunity to stop when they are tired or when traffic or weather creates an unsafe driving environment.

“Current hours-of-service regulations fail to account for the enormously diverse range of operations within the industry and instead apply a one-size-fits-all framework that limits drivers’ ability to operate safely,” the letter stated.

“With this notice of proposed rulemaking, FMCSA has recognized that drivers are professionals capable of making the best decisions about when it is safe for them to drive, and when it is best for them to rest, and when to avoid congestion or refrain from driving in adverse conditions.”

What’s next for HOS reform?

The comment period, which included two public listening sessions, ended Oct. 21. In all, more than 8,100 comments were submitted to the docket.

The exact timeline for when a final rule will be unveiled is unknown, but it could come as soon as 2020.

“Given the potential safety benefits of implementing this notice of proposed rulemaking, we urge you to finalize the rule as quickly as possible,” the letter stated. “Today’s hours-of-service requirements simply aren’t working. Since their implementation, crash rates have regrettably increased. We agree with the agency’s approach to reforming hours of service, which features improvements recommended by America’s most experienced professional drivers.”

The 21 lawmakers who signed the letter in support of HOS reform:

  • Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas
  • Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan.
  • Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas
  • Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa.
  • Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont.
  • Rep. H. Morgan Griffith, R-Va.
  • Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo.
  • Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va.
  • Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas
  • Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa.
  • Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas
  • Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.
  • Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich.
  • Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-La.
  • Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas
  • Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif.
  • Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo.
  • Rep. Fred Keller, R-Pa.
  • Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wisc.
  • Rep. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn.
  • Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La.

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, 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 more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.