“It’s Time” For HOS Changes Says FMCSA Administrator
Las Vegas, Nevada – In a speech to the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) membership on Tuesday at the Wynn Las Vegas, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Administrator, Ray Martinez, told attendees it is time for hours of service (HOS) reform.
Martinez said a comprehensive review of HOS regulations has not been conducted in more than 15 years, which is one of the reasons FMCSA has undertaken such a review in recent months. “We know that commerce has changed,” he said. “Technology has changed in that time. Your business has changed in that time. It’s time!”
More than 5,200 comments were submitted during the recent Advanced Notice Of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM) comment period. Martinez called that response “phenomenal.” He said many of the comments were “very well thought out” and provided the agency with great feedback.
Also, Martinez indicated the data generated during the transition to electronic logging devices (ELDs) highlighted where “adjustments or improvements” to HOS rules may be needed.
“I think we are very close to concluding our evaluation and deciding if we could move forward with an Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) which would provide definitive text.” he said.
However, he warned, “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.”
An NPRM is expected some time this year. According to one source with knowledge of the agency’s thinking, stakeholders can expect an elimination of the 30-minute break and additional sleeper berth flexibility to be included in the final rule.
Martinez spoke for approximately 25 minutes on a wide-range of topics including ELDs, HOS reform, embracing technology to improve safety, and the emergence of automated driving systems in commercial vehicles.
“We Remain Committed” To ELD Mandate
The FMCSA Administrator said the ELD mandate issue is still a “hot topic” and remains on the “front burner.” He commented, “It’s one of the most significant changes in this industry and certainly a large project for the FMCSA.”
Further, he commented, “Some preliminary information that we are receiving shows that ELDs are in fact reducing the number of drivers exceeding HOS, reducing driver fatigue and saving lives.”
Martinez called 2019 a “critical” year for the continued transition to ELD enforcement. “We remain committed to making this transition as efficient as possible,” he said.
He added that HOS violations have decreased by 52% over the last year thanks to the mandate.
Rapidly Developing Technology Could Have A Dramatic Impact
Martinez encouraged trucking stakeholders to put aside their fears about new developing technologies, and embrace the safety benefits these advances could provide.” I don’t want to scare people about this. I do believe these tech changes that are rapidly developing could have a dramatic impact on safety, efficiency and commerce,” he said.
Additionally, he commented, “Engaging with technology is a top priority for DOT. We want to make sure we remain the leader in the world.”