We’re still four or five months away from seeing the official Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to take another look at the Hours of Service rule, but the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s invitation to submit comments to a set of questions posted on the agency’s Web site appears to have been well received in the trucking community.
As of mid-February, the FMCSA had posted some 364 comments from drivers, company presidents, sleep apnea experts and citizen groups, to name a few.
In addition, The Trucker has received some 30 responses from readers that have been passed on to FMCSA.
Here’s part of the abstract about the NPRM posted for the first time in January on the rulemaking management system: “On Oct. 26, 2009, Public Citizen, et al. (petitioners) and FMCSA entered into a settlement agreement under which petitioners’ petition for judicial review of the Nov. 18, 2008, Final Rule on drivers’ Hours of Service will be held in abeyance pending the publication of an NPRM re-evaluating the issue.”
Interesting use of terminology — re-evaluating the issue.
Not pending the publication of a revised rule.
Not pending the publication of a new rule.
Remember folks, the FMCSA is under no obligation to change one iota of the current rule, and based on the comments we’ve read, there’s a fairly substantial group of those within the industry who’d just as soon leave it alone.
Perhaps with one caveat, and that has to do with the 14-hour rule.
There seems to be a growing sentiment among truckers that some flexibility needs to be added to the rule that would allow the 14-hour day to be extended and that sentiment seems to come from a growing frustration of truckers with the manner in which they are treated at shippers and receivers.
“Shippers and receivers should have strictly enforced regulations that adequately and fairly compensate us for our time and that will also prevent them from using us for temporary warehousing,” one trucker wrote.
“Shippers and receivers place no value on a driver’s time,” wrote Walter T. Singleton Jr. of Chesterfield, Va., who told of waiting almost eight hours to unload at a well-known Maryland grocery store warehouse.
There’s also a sentiment among truckers that the sleeper berth rule needs to be changed and again that generally has to do with extending the 14-hour rule.
“We need to be able to stop the clock for a nap to wait out traffic,” Charles Emile Guintard, a Louisiana driver commented. “I haul hazmat and must log all loading/unloading time, so my 14-hour day gets used up real quick.”
“The [sleeper] berth period should be eight hours and two hours should be given to drivers for eating and relaxing during the day without affecting his driving and/or his on duty time,” wrote Claude Robert, president of Robert Transport, a Canadian carrier that travels to the U.S. “Too many drivers are now eating behind the wheel, eating junk food, not stopping to stretch or for a short 15-30 minute nap. What is natural and beneficial for the human body should never be limited by a regulation. For team drivers, the existing regulation is an open door for cheating. By experience, it is impossible to lie down in a vehicle to sleep while this vehicle is moving and this for a period of 10 hours.”
Opinions, opinions, opinions … everyone has one.
Perhaps this trucker summed it up best:
“As one driver among millions I want to weigh in on the impending review of the Hours of Service,” wrote Matthew L. Neale of Mason City, Ill. “When I was in the ministry, I noticed many people who wanted to tell others how to live by faith and serve the Lord. My answer to that was that it is easy to live someone else’s faith. I find in the current debate many people who have never sat inside the cab of a truck trying to tell us what is and is not safe. The other caveat to what I have to say is that no two truck drivers will ever agree on anything.”
You can read all the comments on a government Web site.
We set up a link on our site.
Go to www.thetrucker.com, click on HOS Comments and follow the directions.
Lyndon Finney of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at email@example.com.