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What to Expect with Hours of Service Proposed Rulemaking

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What to Expect with Hours of Service Proposed Rulemaking

Hours of Service will Change, but What Does That Actually Mean?

During the 2019 Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS), Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced that an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) on hours of service has officially been filed with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval. Secretary Chao’s announcement at MATS was a big deal, but it’s hard to understand what it all means. That’s why we’re going to explain what you can expect to see before HOS changes are finalized. We also want to focus on how you can get involved to ensure the changes will benefit you, your drivers, and your trucking company.

But first, let us explain Hours of Service (HOS) and how it’s changed over time.

Hours of Service: A Brief History

The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) first issued Hours of Service (HOS) rules and regulations in 1937. HOS originally consisted of eight rules with the purpose of reducing and preventing commercial motor vehicle (CMV) crashes brought on by driver fatigue. While a lot has changed since 1937, most of the original HOS rules, mission, and purpose haven’t.

The first wave of major changes came in 1962, then again in 2003. Since then we have seen a lot of small adjustments to HOS every two or three years. Why have there been so many changes over the last 16 years? The government agency regulating the trucking industry changed hands from the ICC to the FMCSA in 2003.

What Does the ANPRM Say? What Areas of HOS Are Being Discussed?

We know that the ANPRM has been filed with the OMB for approval, but what does that mean? An advanced notice of proposed rulemaking is simply just the FMCSA filing a proposal with the government to change part of the HOS rules. What does this proposal say and what HOS areas are they looking to make changes to? FMCSA Administrator Raymond Martinez focuses on four specific areas of the HOS rules:

  • The 30-minute rest break provision
  • The sleeper berth rule to allow drivers to split their required time in the sleeper berth
  • An Owner-Operator Independent Association (OOIDA) petition to allow drivers to take a rest break once per 14-hour duty for up to three consecutive hours if the driver is off-duty
  • A petition to allow drivers to use multiple off-duty periods of three hours or longer instead of the required 10 consecutive hours off-duty

It’s important to note that these four areas are just up for evaluation, not that these rules are guaranteed to change.

What Comes Next?

Secretary Chao announced that the ANPRM has been filed, if everything goes well the OMB will approve the proposal, and then it will be published in the Federal Register. Because there is so much excitement around the HOS rules changing, it has already been inaccurately reported that this rule has already cleared the White House.

How long will that process actually take? Rulemakings take weeks if not months to be cleared to publish in the Federal Register. The HOS reforms proposed by the FMCSA will be public information once they’re in the Federal Register, and that’s when public comments for the proposal will be accepted for a dedicated time period. After that, the FMCSA will evaluate those comments to create a final rule.

How You Can Help!

The FMCSA has been asking for comments from truck drivers for over a year about hours of service. With government changes, there is a lot of red tape and they want to make sure they get it right. If you have thoughts, comments, or opinions about HOS then put them in front of the people who can change them.

Comments for the ANPRM are open now, so you can post them here and sign up for email alerts when anything is added to the docket. We’re likely still months away from an HOS final rule, but the ball is rolling in the right direction.

Running a trucking company is hard enough just trying to comply with HOS, don’t let your cash flow be something you struggle with, too. Let us help! Factor your freight bills with a full-service factoring company. We help you get paid fast, provide excellent customer service, and give you free tools that can help you save money on your biggest trucking expenses. Give us a call at 855-369-2739 or get started here.