A much-anticipated proposal released on August 14 by the Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) increases flexibility for truck drivers. The proposal adjusts the rules around the amount of time they can drive their loads and when they are required to rest between drives.
“This proposed rule seeks to enhance safety by giving America’s commercial drivers more flexibility while maintaining the safety limits on driving time,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) sought additional flexibility for livestock haulers who encounter unexpected, adverse driving conditions and the ability to divide the mandatory, 10 hours of rest into separate segments.
NPPC said the FMCSA proposal addresses the challenge of adverse weather by expanding not just the driving time, but also the overall on-duty time for drivers to finish their delivery.
The proposed rule also allows truckers to split up their 10-hour mandatory rest period into two periods (one being at least seven hours long) and creates an option for drivers to take an extended break between 30 minutes and three hours, which pauses their on-duty clock. Not only would this allow drivers the option of resting when tired, but it also provides greater flexibility for completing deliveries and maintaining high animal welfare standards. As well, it helps drivers better manage their schedules when waiting, either to unload a delivery or at a truck wash station.
Brian Stoller, owner of Stoller Trucking in Gridley, Ill., hopes the government will make these adjustments so the drivers have a little more leniency throughout their day.
“That is probably hurting us the most in our search for good, qualified drivers,” Stoller said. “Truckers have their hands tied on how much money they can make when you restrict their driving hours. Long periods of sitting go against their drive time.” (Read more from Stoller)
NPPC believes the Trump administration's proposal is a “smart, common-sense approach to maintain highway safety and provides much-needed options for drivers to comply with Hours of Service rules in a variety of situations that allow them to safely and humanely transport the animals in their care.”
The public comment period is expected to open August 20 and will be open for 45 days.
“FMCSA wants drivers and all CMV stakeholders to share their thoughts and opinions on the proposed changes to hours of service rules that we are putting forward today. We listened directly to the concerns of drivers for rules that are safer and have more flexibility—and we have acted. We encourage everyone to review and comment on this proposal,” FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez said.
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