A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators is nudging Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Ray Martinez to act swiftly to reform the hours-of-service rule to “provide needed flexibility for [truck] drivers.”
In a May 17 letter, co-signed by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and a bipartisan array of no less than 29 other Senators, calls for greater flexibility within the HOS regulation “for all drivers, including long-haul drivers, short-haul drivers, agricultural and livestock haulers,” alluding in part to existing waivers of the electronic logging mandate in place for the latter two groups.
“We suggest FMCSA examine a wide range of options to address HOS issues and ensure safety, including, but not limited to, providing certain allowances for unique businesses or driver operations, elimination of unnecessary requirements, or improved utilization of non-driving time,” the senators state.
Again referring to the 800-pound gorilla astride trucking efficiency bearing the initials “ELD,” the lawmakers drive home their point: “In recent months, it has become more apparent that HOS rules do not provide the appropriate level of flexibility for the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles… It is important that HOS regulations provide for a commonsense framework for drivers, rather than a one-size-fits-all model.”
The letter concludes by “suggesting” that FMCSA look at how it could “address HOS issues and ensure safety, including, but not limited to, providing certain allowances for unique businesses or driver operations, elimination of unnecessary requirements, or improved utilization of non-driving time.”
When FMCSA’s Martinez addressed annual convention of the Truckload Carriers Association on March 26, he said that while he sees the ELD rule as an improvement for complying with hours of service, “there is some worth in looking at” how to improve how the rule works. He stressed that the “process must start with an honest conversation” between FMCSA and stakeholders on what works and what does not in the current HOS rule.