Proposed hours of service changes sent to White House

Changes to the federal regulations that govern how many hours truckers may drive each day have taken a step closer to being changed.

Speaking at the Truckload Carriers Association annual convention in Kissimmee, Florida Tuesday, March 3, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Acting Administrator James Mullen announced the final rule was sent last night to the White House Office of Management and Budget. By law, the OMB has 90 days to rule on the proposed regulation, but there’s a provision that allows that to expand to 120 days.
“While I can’t go into the specifics of this final rule, please know that the goal of this process from the beginning has been to improve safety for all motorists and to increase flexibility for commercial drivers,” Mullen told the filled ballroom at the Gaylord Palms Resort. Talking to reporters after his speech Mullen said he would not and could not attempt to guess how the OMB might react to the proposed changes.

FMCSA’s proposed hours of service reforms, published last August, called for several changes to existing hours of service regulations, all of which then Administrator Ray Martinez said would provide greater flexibility to drivers. Chief among them was the ability for drivers to pause their 14-hour on-duty clock one time and go off-duty for up to three hours. It also provided the option for drivers to extend their 14-hour clock by two hours if they face adverse conditions such as traffic or weather.
If the OMB approves the rule, the next step would be for FMCSA to publish the rule in the Federal Register and set an implementation date.
In his address to TCA, Mullen emphasized the importance of the hours of service changes. He said, “It’s my priority, it’s the priority of the Secretary (of Transportation Elaine Chao), it’s the priority of this Administration to get these modifications finished.”

Mullen also touted the success of the agency’s recently opened Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. He said more than 680,000 drivers have been entered into the database, and that 9,000 drivers who have failed or refused testing have been identified. He said this is critical to highway safety.
The former Werner executive also touched on the success of the mandated electronic logging device regulation. Since becoming mandatory, there has been a 52% reduction in hours of service violations and that during roadside inspections less that one percent of drivers are non-compliant with ELD use.

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FMCSA Issues Temporary Final Rule That Continues Entry-Lev-el Driving Education Rules.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published a temporary final rule providing for a two-year delay in implementing the final agency rule of December 8, 2016, “Minimum Requirements for Training Entry-Lev-el Commercial Vehicle Operators,” the latest ELDT rule.

The provisional final rule extends the date the rule is observed from February 7, 2020, to February 7, 2022.

A notice posted in the Federal Register says that a delay in the compliance date will provide FMCSA with additional time to complete the development of a Training Service Provider Register (TPR). The Extension will allow training providers to independently confirm that they meet the training requirements.  The TPR will further provide an electronic interface, which will receive and store (ELDT) certification information from training providers and transmit this information to state driver licensing authorities (SDLA).

For participants in the US automotive market, the notification of the Federal Register was not a surprise, since FMCSA announced at the end of November that it was preparing a notification, but did not know when it would be published.

This ELDT rule is in the interest of everyone’s safety. In turn, CVTA will continue to push for ELDT implementation before the 2-year delay.

This extension applies to all requirements established in the December 2016 final rule, including:

  • The date by which the training service providers should start uploading the training certification information for a specific driver to TPR, an electronic database that will contain ELDT information;
  •  The date by which the 5DLA must confirm that applicants for Commercial Driving License (CDL) have complied with ELDT requirements before passing a specific knowledge or skill test;
  •  The date by which training providers wishing to provide ELDT must be indicated in the TPR;
  • The date by which drivers seeking CDL or approval must receive the necessary training as indicated in the final ELDT rule.

 

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FMCSA Exempts Transco, Inc. From The 30-Minute Rest Break

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On August 27, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) granted Transco, a large grocery retailer, their request for 30-minute rest break exemption. 

Transco filed a request in October 2018, which the FMCSA has now granted. However, the exemption allows the drivers, “to comply with the 30 minute break requirement while performing on-duty not-driving tasks.”

In Transco’s request for exemption, the company told the FMCSA their drivers are at a higher safety risk with the 30-minute rest break because they operate at lower speeds, make frequent stops, and have set driver schedules. 

The FMCSA noted that, “in most cases Transco relies on team drivers who alternate during shift deliveries. Total trip time averages 17.2 hours. However, total driving time for both drivers combined averages just 9.1 hours. Each driver spends, on average, only 4.55 hours or 32.5% of their shift engaged in driving.” Transco argued that the 30 minute rest break actually decreases their drivers safety.

In addition, the FMCSA stated 3,580 drivers who make wholesale deliveries to grocery and convenience stores are eligible for the 30-minute rest break exemption. 

The exemption is valid for five years.

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New 7 Mile Truck Route Opening Next Month

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced the Starke Truck Route, a four lane truck route implemented to reduce traffic congestion on U.S. 301, will open sometime in September this year.

The Starke Truck Route started construction in August 2016, located on the west side of Starke, Florida. The $90 million, 7.3 mile long, route is constructed between County Road 227 and County Road 23. Which is expected to provide additional capacity for future growth in the area and improve safety. 

The route is estimated to carry over 25,000 vehicles per day in 2020, and increase to over 31,000 per day by the year 2040. Despite mixed feelings about the project from the locals, after hearing concerns that the route will negatively impact local business the Florida Department of Transportation assured “the new road was constructed with the safety and needs of residents and businesses alike in mind”. 

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