Sept. 22 — As the Federal Highway Administration was being blasted in Senate committee hearings for failing to revise hours-of-service regulations last week, the agency was apparently sending up a trial balloon on just that subject.
On Sep. 16, the online edition of Transport Topics reported Paul L. Brennan, FHWA director of research and standards, had outlined a tentative hours-of-service proposal to an ATA-sponsored conference in Scottsdale, AZ. According to the industry weekly, Brennan described the possibility of a 14-hour workday followed by 10 hours off duty with no distinction between driving and other on-duty functions.
Brennan reportedly said his agency is considering limits on night driving, perhaps a cap on the time logged between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. during a given period. He also suggested drivers might be required to take 32 hours — two sleep cycles — off after a week or two of work.
Brennan said a notice of proposed rulemaking should be published within the next two months; a final rule should be in place within two years.
His comments as reported drew immediate fire from both the industry and its critics.
Lana Batts, president of the Truckload Carriers Assn., welcomed the 14-10 hour split, but expressed concern with the imposition of any “penalty” for night driving.
The ATA had no official comment on Brennan's remarks, but industry critics voiced a number of concerns. Steve Izer of Parents Against Tired Truckers said, “Trucking companies will force or coerce drivers to drive 14 hours minimum and log any other time as sleep time as is the case now.”
Izer also questioned the choice of a conference “closed to anyone not in the ATA inner circle” as a venue for Brennan's remarks.
Brennan reportedly disputed the Transport Topics report, saying that his remarks were taken out of context.