COMMON SENSE HOS, part I: Why Optimism Is Building For Common Sense HOS Changes
Common Sense HOS: Part I of II, “Why Optimism Is Building For Common Sense HOS Changes”
Will FMCSA soon be announcing changes to hours-of-service regulations? Have they listened to the voices of those in the trucking community. Plus, if the agency does move forward, what can we reasonably expect the changes to be?
We are taking an in-depth look at the issue in this exclusive two-part Transportation Nation Network featured report.
Little Rock, Arkansas – Optimism continues to build around many corners in the trucking industry as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) readies its decision on important hours-of-service (HOS) regulation changes.
In front of a packed audience at the Kentucky Exposition Center, Secretary Chao said a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) has been sent to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review.
“I’m pleased to announce today that the department is moving forward with the next step which is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding HOS rules,” Chao said to a rousing ovation from those in attendance.
She continued, “I can’t say very much while the rule is under consideration… but let me note that the department understands the strong interest in increasing flexibility and is giving it serious consideration.”
Chao urged trucking stakeholders to continue to participate and “stay tuned.”
Did FMCSA Really Listen To The Trucking Community This Time?
Many trucking stakeholders are hoping that the agency has actually listened to truckers this time around.
Andrea Marks, Director of Communications with TruckerNation, a grassroots organization of truckers born out of the anti-electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate movement, told TNN she is optimistic Martinez and his team will get it right. “FMCSA can’t afford to get HOS reform wrong,” Marks said.
“Nothing gets changed unless we participate and take advantage of the opportunities to participate that are put before us.” – Andrea Marks, Director of Communications with TruckerNation
Marks, who is also a federal employee and has extensive knowledge of the regulatory process, said she believes FMCSA has indeed made a good-faith effort to hear out all sides of the HOS reform debate.
“TruckerNation does not feel as though we are being served with lip service from regulators. We have participated in many meetings, attended multiple events, and had representation at all of the public listening sessions regarding HOS. We have not had a meeting request denied, question unanswered, or promise not kept,” Marks stated.
Dave Heller, TCA’s Vice President of Government Affairs, was in attendance earlier this month to hear FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez’s speech at the annual convention and tells TNN, “I believe Administrator Martinez and his staff have truly made an effort to go above and beyond any previous administrators that have served in this same position.”
Heller said he expects FMCSA to move forward on HOS reform soon. “I believe FMCSA will shortly issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that follows up on the ANPRM they issued in late August of 2018,” he predicted.
“Rulemaking can take from several months to several years, depending on a number of factors,” Marks explained. However, in this case, Marks said the fact the agency is moving at “lightening speed” is another encouraging sign that positive reforms will soon be on the way.
Why Is Martinez Lowering Expectations?
Martinez is certainly aware many in trucking are thrilled about the prospects of bringing some common sense back to HOS regulations.
However, he warned the TCA audience not to get too excited. “I know that we are not going to make everybody happy if we move forward. This is one of those fine lines we have to walk,” he said.
Heller believes TCA members understand they probably won’t get their entire wish list. “The reality is that the staff at FMCSA, from the administrator on down are placed in a position in which they must try to satisfy all parties involved when it comes to our industry. For every action that is bestowed upon our industry, there is an equal and opposite reaction and the agency is almost always placed in the unenviable position of trying to pacify everyone,” Heller commented.
“I believe Administrator Martinez and his staff have truly made an effort to go above and beyond any previous administrators that have served in this same position.” – Dave Heller, TCA’s Vice President of Government Affairs
Marks agreed and said it’s important to keep a proper perspective. “We must continually ensure we are keeping our expectations realistic and adjusting them as necessary,” she said.
Want Better Regulations? Get More Involved!
No matter what the outcome of HOS reform, Marks and Heller emphasized the key to better regulations for the trucking community is for those most affected to get involved in the regulatory process.
“Nothing gets changed unless we participate and take advantage of the opportunities to participate that are put before us,” Marks asserted.
Heller echoed those sentiments. “Our industry should always feel the desire to provide comments on rules and regulations that will affect them. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to tell your story because there are those in the industry that are actually listening,” he said.
So, what are the common sense reforms these stakeholders are asking for, and which ones are likely to happen? Find out next week in part two of our COMMON SENSE HOS series exclusively on TransportationNation.com.