Though wildly controversial the ELD Mandate has flashed a light on two major concerns that have been plaguing the trucking industry for sometime now. One is the lack of available safe overnight parking, particularly in Metro areas, and the other is the issues with hours of service (HOS) regulations. Due to a grassroots push from the Owner Operator Independent Divers Association (OOIDA), changes to hours of service regulations are now on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) agenda as they consider making the following changes:
- Expanding the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on duty to 14 hours on duty, to be consistent with the rules for long-haul truck drivers;
- Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions;
- Revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving; and
- Reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks that are equipped with a sleeper-berth compartment.
One of the major frustrations with ELD’s is it limits a driver’s (who is a licensed professional) ability to use their discretion based on all the unexpected conditions that pop up. It is one reason why, in New York City, we are seeing more trucks parked overnight in residential communities rather than industrial zones. These HOS changes seek to restore that discretion and would thereby improve safety. To wit, if a driver can stop the clock to avoid periods of high traffic congestion or bad weather and have this time be off-duty, allowing the driver to take an extended rest break during the day without pushing through fatigue because of the unrelenting 14-hour on-duty clock, the entire supply chain would benefit, and the roads would be safer. These proposed changes should also serve as a boon to drivers who are currently penalized for long detention times. Drivers should be able to adjust to the road conditions as they are, not how they “ought” to be which is why this could be such a game changer.
Driver’s would still be required to log 10 consecutive hours off duty before the start of their next work shift. This is about adding much needed flexibility to an increasingly unpredictable job.
The public comment period ends on 9/24/18. See here for more details. It is crucial that drivers provide FMCSA with as much information as possible because if drivers do not tell their story, someone else will.