FMCSA Unveils Proposed Legislation to Amend Hours-of-Service Regulations for Commercial Truck Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced a highly anticipated proposed rule that expects to add flexibility to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers. In response to the news, President and CEO, Todd Spencer of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, calls the proposal “a big step in the right direction” to “give drivers more flexibility and, ultimately, improve highway safety.”

Highlights of the FMCSA Proposal

Highlights of the FMCSA proposal include:

  • Expanding the current 100-air mile short haul exemption to 14 hours on duty from 12 hours on duty, to be consistent with rules for long-haul truck drivers.
  • Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
  • Revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving.
  • Reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks equipped with sleeper berth compartments.
  • Allowing covered commercial motor vehicle operators one rest break – for up to three consecutive hours – during every 14-hour on-duty period.
  • Allowing covered CMV operators to use multiple off-duty periods of at least three hours in place of taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.

Feedback From the Trucking Industry

Although the most of the feedback from the trucking industry regarding the proposal was positive, it did not come without some opposition. International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President, Jim Hoffa, claimed that there are “serious concerns” the labor union finds with the proposal. Hoffa noted that “Changes for short-haul truckers, for example, would extend their days from 12 to 14 hours on the job. That means a longer and more exhausting workday for tens of thousands of American workers. The Teamsters are also concerned about language changing the 30-minute rest break and the ability of drivers to press the pause button on their hours of service clock.”

In the press release from August 14, 2019, FMCSA Administrator Raymond Martinez “encourage[d] everyone to review and comment on this proposal.” Comments will be due 45 days after the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register.

After receiving more than 5,200 comments on an advance notice of proposed rulemaking published in the August 23, 2018, Federal Register, the FMCSA submitted the proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on March 28. Although the Department of Transportation regulatory update indicated that June 7 was the target publication date, the proposed legislation is still under review by the OMB.