Well, once again the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) missed the deadline to release their highly anticipated changes to truck driver Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. Department of Transportation reported that the FMCSA was scheduled to release a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) for changes to Hours of Service rules on July 31, 2019… and yet we still have no news.
This isn’t the first time they’d missed the deadline either. The FMCSA was scheduled to release the NPRM on June 7, 2019, which they obviously missed. These repeated missed deadlines have everyone wondering what exactly is going on at the FMCSA.
The new Hours of Service regulations have actually been under way since August of 2018 when the FMCSA published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making. When they first announced the imminent regulations changes, the FMCSA asked for public comments on some different aspects of Hours of Service reforms being considered:
“Should the agency expand the current 100 air-mile short-haul exemption from 12 hours on duty to 14 hours on duty, to be consistent with the workday rules for long-haul truck drivers?”
“Is there adequate flexibility in the adverse driving exception that currently expands driving time by up to two hours?”
“If the 30-minute rest break after eight hours of driving did not exist, would drivers obtain adequate rest breaks throughout a daily driving period to relieve fatigue?”
“Do you have information that would support reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks with sleeper-berth compartments?”
Once the FMCSA has considered all of the over 5,000 comments submitted and finalized the new regulations, the NPRM’s actual publication will be contingent on the Office of Management and Budget’s approval, which could last a while yet.
Vice president of safety policy for American Trucking Associations Dan Horvath has recognized that these kinds of delays occur fairly often during federal rulemaking proposals. “While it’s fairly common for these dates to shift — even by several weeks — we anticipate the release of the NPRM in the coming weeks and are ready to review with ATA’s Safety Policy Committee and provide detailed comments on what FMCSA proposes,” Horvath said. “The timelines in the department’s regulatory updates serve as goals for the agency and are reflective of FMCSA’s plan to move quickly during this rulemaking process,” an FMCSA spokesman said. “The agency is hopeful the rule will be published soon.”
A new deadline has not yet been set for the expected release of the new Hours of Service NPRM. With any luck, when the NPRM is finally released the FMCSA will once again be accepting comments from the pubic before releasing a Final Rule.
We will keep you updated as we hear more news.