FMCSA to request feedback on HOS proposal

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is considering a pilot program allowing drivers additional flexibility to pause their 14-hour workday. If you wish to submit feedback, you’ll need to do so no later 60 days from when the notice is published in the Federal Register. Note the notice has not yet been published.

You can find information on the proposed pilot program on the FMCSA website here [PDF].

Background Information

From the FMCSA release…

On August 22, 2019, FMCSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) concerning drivers’ hours of service which proposed certain amendments to provide greater flexibility for drivers, without adversely affecting safety (84 FR 44190).

As part of that rulemaking, FMCSA proposed that a single off-duty break of between 30 minutes and 3 consecutive hours may be excluded from the 14-hour driving window, provided the driver has at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.

The Agency explained that a single pause of up to 3 hours would provide significantly more flexibility than is allowed under the current rules. The pause would have allowed drivers to take an off-duty break without fear of exhausting their available hours under the 14-hour clock, which would also have allowed them to get additional rest or avoid traffic congestion.

After reviewing the public comments to the NPRM, the Agency decided not to include the pause to the 14-hour driving window in the Final Rule, published on June 1, 2020 (85 FR 33396). FMCSA continues to believe that an opportunity for a single off duty pause in the 14-hour driving window could provide flexibility for drivers without compromising safety, as explained in the NPRM.

From Trucking Info

When the final rule was published, asked why this provision was omitted from the final rule, Acting Administrator Jim Mullen explained that, “the split sleeper berth provides essentially the equivalent, if not more flexibility, in that regard.” So if a driver wanted to take up to a three-hour break to wait out rush hour, for instance, he or she could take that as split sleeper berth time.

In the final rule, the agency cited concerns raised by commenters that drivers might be “pressured by carriers, shippers, or receivers to use the break to cover detention time, which would not necessarily provide the driver an optimal environment for restorative rest,” noted the trucking attorneys at Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary.

To comment on the proposed pilot program, visit the website. Search for Docket No. FMCSA-2020-0098. Once the proposal has been published, you’ll be able to submit your comment.