Proposed Hours of Service (HOS) rules that restrict the number of consecutive driving hours for commercial drivers and increase their required periods of rest are being met with staunch opposition from some key Republican lawmakers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) expects to issue the new rules by the end of October.
Opponents of the rule changes, including John Mica (R-FL) who serves as the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and three other Republican legislators, have vowed to intervene if the proposed changes are included in the final rule.
In a letter to President Obama and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the four said they would “aggressively oversee” any new “regulatory burdens” the FMCSA imposes on the trucking industry with the new rule.
“If finalized, the proposed changes would have a substantial negative impact on the productivity of the $600 billion trucking industry and will quickly result in a drag on the staggering U.S. economy,” the lawmakers said in the letter, dated Sept. 23.
The letter also argued that imposing new limits on drivers would have a negative impact on commercial vehicle and highway safety.
“We are very concerned the proposed changes will result in additional trucks and drivers on the road to deliver the same amount of freight, adding to final product costs and increasing congestion on our overburdened highways,” the Congressmen added. “In our enormous, consumer-driven economy, the last thing our government should be doing is artificially increasing the costs of almost every consumer good with unneeded regulation.”
The lawmakers object to three proposed changes to the HOS rules. One, a stated preference by the FMCSA, would reduce the maximum allowable driving hours within a 24-hour period from 11 to 10. They also oppose the requirement that two periods between 12 midnight and 6 a.m. be included in every 34-hour restart, and that only one restart would be allowed per week.
The third objection involves a change requiring commercial drivers to take a 30-minute break every 7 hours, which would mean a required one-hour break within every 14- or 16-hour driving window, thereby reducing daily on-duty time from 14 to 13 hours. However, the proposed rule states that drivers could extend the driving window to 16 hours twice a week.