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August 28, 2019 12:15 PM, EDT

ATA, CVSA Request Commenting Extension for FMCSA Hours-of-Service Proposal

Part of FMCSA's hours-of-service proposal involves traveling in adverse conditions. A truck on a snow-covered road. FMCSA's HOS rules involve trucks traveling in adverse weather conditions. (Dave Gonzalez/Minnesota DOT)

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Two groups have requested that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration extend the public comment period meant to garner feedback on proposed changes to hours-of-service regulations.

FMCSA’s highly anticipated Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, released Aug. 14, would allow truck drivers more flexibility with their 30-minute rest break and with dividing their time in the sleeper berth. It also would extend by two hours the duty time for drivers encountering adverse weather and extend the shorthaul exemption by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 hours to 14 hours and increasing the distance limit in which drivers can operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

The public comment period is scheduled to close Oct. 7. American Trucking Associations filed a letter to FMCSA on Aug. 27 asking for a 30-day extension to the comment period. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance submitted a similar request Aug. 22 asking for a 45-day extension.

ATA’s letter, written by Vice President of Safety Policy Daniel Horvath, states that more time is needed to collect feedback and data from members of its federation, which include motor carriers, state trucking associations and national trucking conferences.

Dan Horvath of ATA

Horvath

“Because the impacts of proposed HOS regulations will vary depending on the type of carrier operation, ATA is concerned that there will be insufficient time within the current comment period to coordinate with our members and develop comments on this important NPRM,” Horvath wrote in the letter.

Beyond that, Horvath noted that ATA’s annual Management Conference & Exhibition, scheduled for Oct. 5-8, will provide ample opportunity for policy leaders to discuss the proposal. An extension of the comment period, which is slated to close during the meeting, would allow ATA to incorporate additional feedback into the comments.

CVSA, too, said the current window does not provide enough time to compile comments. CVSA represents commercial motor vehicle safety officials and industry leaders across the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

“Forty-five days is not adequate time to prepare and approve comments on such a complicated and important issue,” CVSA Executive Director Collin Mooney wrote. “In order to provide comments that will contribute to a comprehensive, well-informed, science- and data-based NPRM, it is imperative that stakeholders be given additional time to develop their comments.”

Collin Mooney, CVSA’s executive director

Mooney

FMCSA officials have shown willingness to hear from members of the trucking industry on the proposed HOS revisions. Agency leaders held the first listening session on the proposal Aug. 23 at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas.

During the two-hour session, many drivers suggested that the agency give them the ability to break up the mandatory 30-minute rest break, allow team drivers to use a 6-4 hour split or 5-5 split of their time in the sleeper berth and make it clear to motor carriers that drivers make the call on how they use their time in the sleeper berth.

FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez urged participants to submit comments detailing not only what they liked about the NPRM, but also what they disliked.

A second listening session will be held in Washington in September.