These Hours of Service Rules Could Be In Jeopardy As Opponents Plan New Challenges
Washington D.C. – The newly implemented federal hours of service (HOS) reform for commercial motor vehicle drivers could be in jeopardy as opponents plan possible new challenges.
In an exclusive statement to Transportation Nation Network (TNN), Sam Loesche, an International Brotherhood of Teamsters legislative representative, said the group is “exploring all options” on ways to rollback the Trump Administration’s signature trucking regulatory accomplishment.
Most concerning to Loesche is the expansion of the short haul exemption allowing certain drivers to extend their maximum daily on‑duty period from 12 to 14 hours and the added “flexibility” to the 30-minute break provision.
“Fatigue is a serious issue and both of these rule changes continue to stack the deck against drivers, all but ensuring that many will be pressured to work themselves to the bone,” Loesche told TNN. “We are examining all options to ensure drivers get the rest and recuperative time they need to keep our roads as safe as possible.”
In June of last year, the Teamsters filed a Petition for Reconsideration with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to stay the new HOS rule’s effective implementation date of September 29.
The Agency denied its request.
Then, just days before the HOS rule changes were set to go into effect, the Teamsters filed a legal challenge in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to “invalidate” the rule.
They were joined by truck safety advocacy groups such as Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT).
That case is still being litigated.
However, the recent change in presidential administrations provides an opportunity for the Teamsters and critics of the rule to seize upon.
President Joe Biden’s administration is largely expected to take a much heavier hand in regulating the trucking industry.
While Loesche would not reveal the exact course of action the Teamsters plan to take moving forward, trusted sources on Capitol Hill tell TNN it is highly likely the group, along with its truck safety allies, will re-petition Biden’s FMCSA to reverse provisions in the rule.
Adding to the intrigue is the fact that the $900 billion COVID relief package Congress passed and President Trump signed in late December of 2020 directs the FMCSA to compare trucking safety data from prior years to data collected since the implementation of the rule.
Data in the review will include: the number of crashes, crash type, number of fatalities categorized by occupant type, number of serious injuries, the large truck crash involvement rate, and the time of day and on what type of roadway the accident occurred.
In a recent blog post, Scopelitis Transportation Consulting (STC), a leading industry analyst, predicted the Biden Administration will likely delve much deeper.
“STC is betting the Biden Administration-led DOT will perform an analysis more rigorous than the one required by Congress,” the firm wrote.
However, Dave Heller, vice president of government affairs for the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), told TNN this week that such a review will likely only fortify the position of those who advocated for the rule.
“The rule was defined by what the FMCSA was seeing from the data generated by electronic logging devices (ELD) which highlighted the problems drivers are dealing with every day,” Heller explained.
Further, Heller argued that drags on driver productivity such as detention time and fatigue-inducing issues like traffic congestion required the need for more flexibility in a trucker’s work day.
“I believe the career staff at FMCSA are very aware of what the data shows,” he commented. “It behooves us all to listen to what the data is telling us.”
This issue will remain on the front burner for the foreseeable future and TNN will continue to closely track it.