Providing Flexibility for Short-Haul Truckers Through the HOURS Act

October 1, 2018 Karli Langner

Since the December 2017 shift to mandatory use of electronic logging devices to track drivers’ hours of service, there have been some issues for the industry – not about ELD use, but about the flexibility of the underlying hours-of-service (HoS) rules.

In late June, U.S. Representative, Rick Crawford, a Republican from Arkansas, introduced the “Honest Operators Undertake Road Safety" (HOURS) Act. The bill is aimed at modifying parts of the current HoS regulations. 

If passed, the HOURS Act would provide relief, similar to that obtained by the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), for industry short-haul truckers. NAPA petitioned the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) earlier this year because asphalt pavement mixture is a perishable product that must be delivered at the right time and at the right temperature.

“Because drivers of asphalt-related trucks generally operate within limited areas and spend a good portion of their day waiting to load or unload their trucks, as opposed to driving, these drivers do not face the sort of fatigue factors long-haul truckers face or that HoS regulations were developed to address,” said Dr. Howard Marks, NAPA Vice President for Environment, Health & Safety.

On August 23, FMCSA released an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, proposing similar changes to HoS regulations. 

FMCSA is considering the following revisions:

  • Expanding the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption to 14 hours on duty from 12 hours on duty, to be consistent with 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.
  • Reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks equipped with sleeper berth compartments.

Further, the agency is asking for input on separate petitions requesting relief from HoS rules:

  • To allow covered commercial motor vehicle operators one rest break – for up to three consecutive hours – during every 14-hour on-duty period (filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association).
  • To allow covered CMV operators to use multiple off-duty periods of at least three hours in place of taking 10 consecutive hours off duty (filed by TruckerNation.org).

Last week, NAPA met with Crawford's legislative director and industry stakeholders to support the HOURS Act.

"While we applaud agency-initiated regulatory relief efforts, we also want to make sure they are permanently enacted through the statutory mechanism, like the HOURS Act," said NAPA Director of Government Affairs, Ashley Jackson.

NAPA Vice President for Environment, Health & Safety, Dr. Howard Marks, added, "Because ours and similar industries have unique trucking constraints, like certain start-stop provisions, we want to make sure that both regulators and legislators take into account those needs as well." NAPA will respond to the ANPRM and keep members informed about how to assist with additional trucking HoS relief efforts.

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