The trucking industry is closely tied to the automotive industry. The trucking industry transports vast quantities of raw materials for use by automotive companies in their manufacturing, and is also a significant consumer of automotive products. This month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a long-anticipated proposal on “hours of service” rules for truck drivers.
The hours of service rules govern how much time a commercial driver may operate the vehicle, and mandates certain periods of rest. The rules divide drivers into two categories: property-carrying and passenger-carrying. Property-carrying drivers must comply with (among other requirements):
In August, the FMCSA proposed revisions to each of these rules. The goal of the new rules, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, is “to enhance safety by giving America’s commercial drivers more flexibility while maintaining the safety limits on driving time.” The proposed changes are:
These changes come after an effort by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, submitted a petition to FMCSA in February 2018 to revise the rules. OOIDA applauded the proposed rules, releasing a statement on August 14, 2019: “[Truckers] are the most knowledgeable, highway safety advocates and the agency’s proposal, overall, recognizes that fact.”
However, at least one group has spoken out against the proposed rule changes. Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety released a statement on August 14, 2019 stating it is “staunchly opposed to the proposed changes in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published this morning by the [FMCSA] which would significantly weaken hours-of-service (HOS) rules.” The group raised concerns with each of the proposed changes, questioning the potential safety impact of the changes.
The public comment period is now open, and it remains to be seen if the final rules will be approved as proposed.