On April 1, FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez provided a keynote address at the annual Spring Workshop of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance in St. Louis, MO, during which he discussed the past “year of engagement” with industry and law enforcement partners. In addition to highlighting FMCSA’s engagement efforts and the Agency’s desire to collaborate even more effectively with partners, he commented on several current regulatory topics including upcoming proposed changes to the hours of service (HOS) rules. More specifically, Administrator Martinez stated that:
- Data has highlighted needed HOS adjustments
- The “responsible industry” has expressed “legitimate flexibility concerns” with the current HOS rules
- This consistent industry message for more “flexibility” has been heard by FMCSA
He went further by stating that the industry’s flexibility theme will be addressed by proposed rule changes that could allow drivers to better plan for breaks and for operating around congested areas of the country. He also stated that FMCSA’s proposed changes will be aimed at allowing driver the flexibility to simply manage their time better. These hints suggest to STC that FMCSA will likely propose a more flexible sleeper berth rule for drivers to split their off-duty time in the berth, as well as a different approach to the 30-minute rest break (i.e., perhaps taking the break in an on-duty status in lieu of being in an off-duty status for the break). The proposed HOS changes are currently being reviewed by the Office of Management & Budget, which is one of the last steps before being posted on FMCSA’s site and being published in the Federal Register. The industry should expect FMCSA to publish its proposed changes very soon – likely late April or perhaps May.