30-Minute Break and Split Sleeper Berth Comments Fill HOS Listening Session
Dallas, TX – On Friday at the Great American Trucking Show, top officials with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hosted the first of two public listening sessions regarding the Agency’s recent proposed reforms to the hours of service (HOS) rule.
FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez, along with his top deputies on policy and safety, heard approximately 2 hours of comments from concerned stakeholders about the new proposal.
Martinez said the comment portion of the current Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on HOS is at an “important stage.”
“We understand the impact that this has,” he said. “We are taking it seriously.”
He urged stakeholders not to sit this one out and implored everyone to submit a public comment.
“Don’t give up because of the length of this process,” Martinez stated. “We need to hear from you.”
A number of top trucking groups were represented in the session including the Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association, the American Trucking Associations, TruckerNation and the United States Transportation Alliance.
Common themes from today’s session included comments and questions about possibly splitting the 30-minute break into multiple shorter increments totaling 30 minutes, returning to a 5/5 split sleeper provision, clarification on the proposed adverse driving provision, and what the Agency is prepared to do to take action against driver coercion.
The FMCSA proposed the new changes with the expressed intent to add “flexibility” to HOS.
Rich McCormick, an owner operator of 25 years, offered his comments saying, “I really like a lot of the things in the new proposals. I think it is going to help to have more flexibility.”
Still, others in attendance Transportation Nation Network (TNN) spoke with expressed pessimism the proposed changes would actually make conditions better for drivers.
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A notable moment in today’s session came when founder of the Real Women in Trucking Organization, Desiree Wood, presented the FMCSA leaders with a petition with 900 signatures asking the Agency to take “immediate action” to combat sexual harassment in the entry level driver training process.
“You guys need to look at this and see what you can do immediately, not after a comment collection,” Wood said. “The world is a different place today. We need to stop enabling and wake up and do something.”
Martinez responded to Wood by acknowledging harassment in the trucking industry is “troubling” and inviting her to meet with he and his team in Washington in the near future.
Some in attendance expressed concern over the number of people who did (or didn’t) attend the listening session.
Part of the reason some are pointing to is the fact the FMCSA only announced the listening session earlier this week giving people less than a week’s notice.
President of the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) James Lamb expressed his concerns to TNN this week about the Agency’s lack of a “sufficient” notice.
“With just three days notice, how in the world does the FMCSA expect a truck driver to find out about the listening session, prepare his views, and drive all the way across the country to attend an HOS Listening Session without violating HOS rules,” Lamb asked.
The next public listening session on the topic will be held in Washington D.C. in September.
The date is yet to be determined.
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