FMCSA Boss: HOS Reform Coming In “Short Order,” Weighs In On Under-21 Truckers
Washington D.C. – Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Ray Martinez, told a U.S. Senate committee on Wednesday that the agency’s long-awaited proposed rule on hours-of-service (HOS) reform is coming soon.
Testifying before the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Martinez was asked directly by Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) when to expect the proposed rule to be made public.
“This has been an interesting process,” Martinez said. “We, I believe, are in the final stages. I am hopeful that it will be in short order.”
However, Martinez would not commit to a specific date.
“I hesitate to put a date certain on it,” he commented.
Martinez’s hesitancy is well-founded since the agency has already missed its announced target date of June 7, 2019.
“FMCSA’s proposed rule on changes to the HOS regulations continues to be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB),” an FMCSA representative said in an email to Transportation Nation Network on June 7.
“We look forward to receiving comments on our proposal and moving forward to make the needed regulatory changes,” Martinez said on Wednesday.
Sources have confirmed to TNN the agency expects to publish the newly proposed rule this month.
MORE LIKELY TO BE AT-FAULT? MARTINEZ ALSO WEIGHED IN ON WHO HE BELIEVES IS MORE LIKELY TO BE AT-FAULT FOR THE RISE IN LARGE TRUCK-INVOLVED CRASHES… CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.
Under-21 Cross-Country Truckers?
Martinez discussed an array of other trucking industry topics including the agency’s position on the controversial DRIVE Safe Act.
The newly re-introduced legislation would allow 18 to 20-year-olds to operate in interstate commerce.
When asked by Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) what the agency’s position on the issue is, Martinez stopped short of endorsing the legislation.
“What we will do, as we are doing now, is conduct a pilot program or study to see if we can collect some data before we move forward on that,” Martinez stated.
However, the FMCSA boss indicated restricting 18 to 21-year olds from driving cross-country is an antiquated regulation due to advances in technological safety systems.
“It makes you scratch your head. The rule has been in place since the 1930s. It deserves a good hard look now because things have changed. We have new technologies that may be able to monitor and tell us not all drivers under the age of 21 are the same,” he said.
Senator John Tester (D-MT) had an interesting exchange with Martinez on the issue.
Tester is supporting the DRIVE-Safe Act and urged Martinez to lead the agency to do the same or the bill won’t win the support it needs to become law.
“You guys try to come forth with an idea on whether you are going to support that or not because, I will tell ya, if the department doesn’t support it, we are not going to get it passed, in my opinion, because everybody is concerned about safety,” Tester opined.
“Obviously we want to engage with Congress on this issue. I hear it every day from stakeholders all around the country. We understand there is a shortage of drivers. So, we want to be helpful there, but our primary focus remains safety,” Martinez countered.
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