Reacting to strong protests against its proposed new hours of service guidance for oilfield haulers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has extended the deadline for comments and scheduled several public listening sessions.

One provision of the guidance says that drivers who haul supplies, equipment and materials such as sand and water would not be eligible for the waiting time exception to the rule, even if their trucks have been somewhat modified or if they have extra training.

That exception says that specially trained drivers of vehicles spec'ed to serve oil wells do not have to include waiting time in their on-duty time.

This provision, and the agency's approach to the issue in general, drew a pointed response from trucking interests.

"The manner in which FMCSA instituted this guidance denied drivers and motor carriers the opportunity to raise their concerns about the possible effects of the change," said the American Trucking Associations.

"As (FMCSA) Administrator (Anne) Ferro frequently says in her speeches, highway safety is a partnership between government and industry. Unfortunately, FMCSA staff did not consult with industry on this change, and the guidance reflects that."

The Colorado Motor Carriers Association had a similar response.

"Our oilfield companies and their customers should be afforded the same opportunity as FMCSA has offered others in regard to rule changes for other sectors," CMCA said. "We would contend that they could provide better guidance on this matter if they first met and discussed the matter with industry professionals."

The original deadline for comments was August 6. FMCSA has pushed that back until October 5, and has scheduled three listening sessions.

The first session will be tomorrow, August 17, in Denver. The second is scheduled for August 21 in Coraopolis, Pa. The third will be in September on a date to be announced, in Dallas.