FMCSA HOS Changes Aim to Increase Driver Safety and Schedule Flexibility
This past Wednesday the FMCSA made public their proposed changes to the hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. The announcement comes just 1 month after the agency proposed new CDL regulations. The FMCSA highlighted 5 changes to the regulations.
The most notable of which allows drivers to split up the 10-hour break from driving into 2 separate breaks.
One break of at least 7 hours for sleep and a second break of at least 2 hours spent off duty is recommended for optimal driving. Additionally, drivers can use their half-hour break requirement on the “on-duty, not driving” status under the new changes. However, the 14-hour time window will pause whenever drivers take an off-duty break. This allows drivers to extend their workday up to 17 hours. However, the maximum time driving per 14-hours will remain at 11 hours.
The proposed changes to HOS rules seek to address schedule flexibility in the wake of ELD (electronic logging devices) regulations. The FMCSA’s overall goal in publishing these proposed rule changes is to enhance road safety. Additionally, the FMCSA said that these changes aim to result in cost savings for carriers by improving driver productivity. The U.S. economy will save $274 million in costs under the rule changes. The proposed changes are open to public opinion for 45 days, beginning on last Wednesday, August 14.
Freight Industry Voices Opinion on the Recent FMCSA HOS Changes
President of OOIDA stated that the proposed changes are a step in the right direction. Furthermore, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) reports that traffic slowdowns in 2017 resulted in overall operating losses in the industry of over $74 billion. The thought behind the new 3-hour break rule is that in addition to adding flexibility to driver’s schedules, traffic congestion can be mitigated.
However, despite positive outlooks, some drivers believe that the proposed rule changes allow a way for carriers to force their drivers to work fatigued by extending the legal workday up to 17 hours. Additionally, the main issue is that most drivers receive pay by the miles driven and not for the hours worked. Therefore, by adding mandatory extra unpaid hours to their workday, drivers are missing out on pay. President of Aerodyne Transportation, Alec Costerus, stated that if drivers are paid by the hour like everyone else, then there would be no driver shortage in the industry.
The last time hours-of-service regulations changes were proposed in 2003, freight industry leaders delayed the implementation of changes until 2011. The delay came in the form of litigation in federal court and was based on claims that the initial changes would have a negative impact on drivers’ well-being and highway safety.
Lawmakers believe that there will be a repeat of litigation regarding the newest changes in hours-of-service regulations. Furthermore, if the recent HOS rule changes go to federal court, then the rule changes will take a while to be final.