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Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is now eyeing July 31 as the publication date for a proposed rule the agency says would add flexibility to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers, according to a Department of Transportation regulatory update released in June.

Previously, DOT indicated June 7 as the target publication date for the proposed rule, which FMCSA submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget on March 28. An FMCSA spokesperson confirmed in an email to Safety+Health that the proposed rule remains under OMB review, and FMCSA head Raymond Martinez reiterated that stance during a June 19 hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

“I really do believe that we are in the very final stages of that process, and I’m hopeful that it will be in short order,” Martinez said in response to a question from Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE).

The agency received more than 5,200 comments on an advance notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Aug. 23 Federal Register. Possible changes to HOS regulations include:

  • 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.

Additionally, FMCSA weighed input on separate petitions requiring the agency 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).
  • 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).

The comment period on the new proposed rule is scheduled to conclude Sept. 16.

Retrieved from Safetyandhealthmagazine.com

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