Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Hours of Service reform. Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky, March 29, Secretary Chao said the proposal has been sent to the Office of Management and Budget for consideration.
Chao said comments from last year's Advance Notice were heard and noted, and this proposal will address those comments.
"I'm pleased to announce today that the department is moving forward with the next step [in HOS reform], which is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Hours of Service rules," she said. "This NPRM was just sent to the Office of Management and Budget. That means, of course, that I can't say much while the rule is under consideration. I can't go into specifics or details about this proposal, but let me note that the department understands the strong interest in increasing flexibility and is giving it serious consideration."
Chao noted that the department received more than 5,200 comments to the advanced notice of proposed rulemaking issued last August. It called for comments on five specific issues: the overall hours of service limits; the HOS exemptions for adverse driving conditions; the 30-minute rest break provision; the rule allowing drivers to split their off-duty time in a sleeper berth; and petitions filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and Trucker Nation on rest breaks and the 14-hour rule.
Chao offered no hints or clues as to what might be contained in this NPRM, but word of the forward motion on HOS reform seemed to be warmly received by the drivers in the room.
Chao was interruped twice during the announcement; first by a power blackout that apparently affected the entire South Wing of the Kentucky Fairgrounds and Exhibition Center, and again, just after the NPRM announcement was made, by evacuation notices over the public address system.
Chao continued with her remarks despite the disruption.
OMB will review the proposal, but nothing was said about a timeframe. After the review, the comments will be published in the Federal Register for public comment.