WASHINGTON — Thirty members of the U.S. Senate have sent a letter to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Administrator Ray Martinez asking the agency to “explore improvements” in the Hours of Service regulations that would ensure drivers across differing businesses and operations can safely and efficiently comply with such requirements.
The letter was sent on the letterhead of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, although several signees are not on that committee.
The first signature was that of Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who is chairman of the committee.
The letter was signed by both Republicans and Democrats although the committee’s ranking member, Bill Nelson of Florida, did not sign.
The senators told Martinez that it had become more apparent that HOS rules do not provide the appropriate level of flexibility for the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles, and that because the trucking industry provides for over 3 million jobs in the U.S., and because the industry is the “backbone” of the country’s economy, it is important that HOS regulations provide for a commonsense framework for drivers, rather than a one-size-fits-all model.
“We suggest FMCSA examine a wide range of options to address HOS issues and ensure safety, including, but not limited to, providing certain allowances for unique businesses or driver operations, elimination of unnecessary requirements or improved utilization of non-driving time,” the lawmakers wrote.
The letter comes in the heels of the implementation of the electronic logging device mandate as the industry is calling for flexibility in such areas and sleeper berth rules and the ability to stop the 14-hour clock.
A bill introduced in the House in March permit drivers to pause the 14-hour on-duty clock for up to three hours a day, although the House has not acted on the proposal.
Also introduced in the House in April was an amendment to a larger bill that would allow FMCSA to more quickly enact HOS reforms by skipping a step in the rulemaking process. The amendment was later withdrawn, and a bill to allow a three-hour pause for the 14-hour clock has seen no action.
FMSCA is also preparing to conduct a study on sleeper berth flexibility once it gets the go-ahead from the Office of the Secretary of Transportation.
Current rules require eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth during a 24-hour period.
Many drivers say they would prefer to break up the eight hours into shorter increments.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.