This week the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) filed documents hinting that they are considering changes to current Hours of Service regulations for commercial vehicle drivers.
While the details of the pre-rule have not been released, the move indicates that the FMCSA is succumbing to pressure from trucking industry groups like Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) to modernize current Hours of Service regulations in order to provide drivers with more flexibility — which an increasing number of drivers have been calling for in the era of Electronic Logging Devices. The White House must approve of the measure before it can move forward from the pre-rule stage to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. This spring, Texas lawmaker Brian Babin introduced Hours of Service reform legislation called H.R. 5417, or “The Responsible and Effective Standards for Truckers (REST) Act” that would “allow drivers to take one rest break per shift, for up to three consecutive hours. The single off-duty period would not be counted toward the driver’s 14-hour, on-duty allowance and would not extent the total, allowable drive limits … The REST Act requires the Department of Transportation to update Hours of Service regulations to allow a rest break once per 14-hour duty period for up to 3 consecutive hours as long as the driver is off-duty, effectively pausing the 14-hour clock. However, drivers would still need to log ten consecutive hours off duty before the start of their next work shift. It would also eliminate the existing 30-minute rest break requirement.” The Rest Act has not made any significant legislative progress since it was introduced on March 29, 2018. OOIDA approved of the news of an Hours of Service pre-rule. The group has proposed Hours of Service regulation changes similar to the ones proposed by Babin.