- The Department of Transportation (DOT) sent a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) covering changes to hours-of-service (HOS) regulations in the trucking industry to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said last week at the Mid-America Trucking Show.
- "While I can’t go through the specifics of this proposal, let me note that the Department understands the strong interest in increasing flexibility and is giving it serious consideration," Chao said.
- OMB will review the NPRM and send it back to the DOT where any needed changes will be made. The notice will then be posted on the Federal Register for a public comment period, the length of which is yet to be determined. The DOT will use feedback from the public comment period to help shape the final rule before implementation.
Under current HOS rules, drivers can be on the road no more than 11 hours in a 14-hour period. If they stop to avoid rush hour or are stuck in a port waiting for a container, the clock on this 14-hour period keeps going.
Drivers want more flexibility and the ability to stop the clock on the 14-hour period if they take a break. This has become even more of an issue for drivers since the use of electronic logging devices (ELD) became mandatory.
"No one is looking for more drive time," Brian Brase, a heavy hauler out of Pennsylvania who helped plan a protest of HOS rules, told Supply Chain Dive earlier this year. "They just want some flexibility in it."
An early study on the effect of the ELD mandate showed it increased HOS compliance. The share of inspections that resulted in HOS violations fell from 6% before the mandate to 3.8% during a light enforcement period and finally to 2.5% during a strict enforcement period.
The DOT published an Advanced NPRM last August to get input on HOS and "received more than 5,200 comments, which have been carefully noted and considered," Chao said. This Advanced NPRM continues to receive comments.
"HOS needs more flexibility to allow for bad weather, delays at shippers and receivers, and traffic situations (wrecks, delays, construction, etc.)," a commenter named Sean Wright posted yesterday.
Many of the comments focus on a rule that requires drivers to take a 30-minute break after eight hours of driving. Peter Dombrowski, in a comment posted yesterday, suggested ending the 30-minute break requirement, saying drivers already take these breaks throughout the day.
Still, others are happy with the way things are: "Please keep the hos as is! Elogs are keeping companies from working drivers 18 hours a day," Robert Parker posted in February.
The details of the NPRM won't be known until its posted on the Federal Register. There is no set timeline for when this might happen or how long OMB will spend reviewing it.