FMCSA Advances Hours of Service Changes, Final Rule Could Come This Year
Orlando, FL – On Tuesday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Acting Administrator, Jim Mullen, announced hours-of-service (HOS) reform is one step closer to becoming reality.
Speaking at the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) annual convention, this year being held at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, FL, Mullen thrilled stakeholders with the news that the Agency has submitted the final proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) within the White House for review.
“I am pleased to announce that FMCSA has sent a final rule to OMB for review,” he said. “While I can’t go into the specifics of this final rule, know that the goal has been to improve safety for all motorists and to increase flexibility for commercial drivers.”
The OMB will now have 90 days to approve or reject the proposed rule.
It can extend its review for up to 120 days if it deems necessary.
If approved by OMB, it would clear the way for the FMCSA to publish a final rule into the Federal Register possibly as soon as this summer.
As Transportation Nation Network (TNN) has accurately reported, anxiety among industry stakeholders has been growing with regard to the timeline of the Agency’s handling of HOS reform.
Some industry insiders questioned the timing of former Administrator Ray Martinez’s sudden departure from the Agency last fall, and expressed concerns it could stall HOS reform.
When asked by TNN for comment, the FMCSA strongly denied any such suggestion.
Still, nervousness among trucking stakeholders has been growing in recent days particularly as we approach the 2020 presidential election.
In a recent interview, Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs and communications with the Western States Trucking Association, told TNN, “The political aspect of this can’t be ignored.”
Rajkovacz acknowledged HOS reform could get “caught up in presidential election year politics.”
Dave Heller, vice president of government affairs with the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), recently told TNN, “Certainly, the election plays a key role in the HOS regulations. If the rule is not finalized prior to the election and the administration changes, then there is the possibility that the final rule is never issued at all.”
Even if the final rule is issued prior to election day 2020, both men agree that HOS reform could still be in serious jeopardy.
If the eventual Democratic-nominee wins the election, Rajkovacz believes the new administration would “likely not make a strong defense of the rule,” when it is inevitably challenged in court.
Heller says such a development could “potentially send our industry back to square one.”
Today’s news bolsters the chances that a final rule is issued this year, but what about the enforcement date?
Rajkovacz hopes an enforcement date will come before the election also.
However, he admitted such a timeline was ambitious because of the necessary lead time states must be given in order to prepare to enforce the rule.
“The feds don’t enforce their own laws. The states do. They have to give states some time,” he advised.
Stay logged on to TransportationNation.com for the very latest developments on HOS reform.
Photo courtesy of FMCSA
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