- A bipartisan House bill introduced by Reps. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., and Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., seeks to increase flexibility under hours-of-service (HOS) rules.
- The legislation, called the Honest Operators Undertake Road Safety Act, or HOURS Act, would "harmonize" rules for short haul drivers and eliminate "irrelevant and redundant paperwork requirements," according to a news release from Rep. Crawford. The full text of the bill has not yet been published.
- The American Trucking Associations (ATA) supports the bill, claiming it will improve driver safety and increase supply chain efficiency.
Despite the commotion surrounding the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate before it went into effect, violations have been few and far between since April 1 — the date enforcement began. HOS compliance overall has improved, with only 0.64% of inspections in May resulting in an HOS violation, according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
What the ELD implementation has done is highlight underlying issues with HOS rules.
"Many complaints associated with ELDs are really issues with the hours-of-service rules themselves – issues that were papered over by inaccurate or falsified logbooks,” Collin Stewart, president and CEO of Stewart Transport Inc., said in ATA's press release.
The House bill seeks to remedy potential problems with HOS requirements by creating two exemptions.
One is to exempt agricultural haulers from HOS rules if they're traveling within a 150-mile radius of their origin. FMCSA already granted ELD waivers to truckers hauling agriculture, livestock or fresh produce, recognizing the sensitive nature of these shipments and necessity for them to arrive without delay and risk of spoilage.
The other exemption applies to drivers who operate exclusively within 150 miles of their reporting location and work a 14-hour day. If the bill passes, those truckers would be exempt from ELD requirements.
FMCSA Administrator Raymond Martinez, who came to the head of the agency earlier this year, has said he's "all ears" on ways to improve HOS rules and compliance — welcome news for both carriers and shippers who may have faced delays.