Is it possible to settle hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for tractor-trailer drivers to everyone’s satisfaction?
Nearly a year after federal regulators overturned parts of hours-of-service reforms instituted in 2013, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is petitioning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to further loosen the rules, which limit the consecutive driving hours and mandate periods of rest for tractor-trailer drivers.
The OOIDA is asking the FMCSA to allow drivers to pause their 14-hour daily clock for up to three consecutive hours and eliminate the 30-minute rest break mandated under the current regulations.
HOS rules are intended to reduce fatigue among tractor-trailer drivers and other commercial drivers. Falling asleep at the wheel remains a leading cause of tractor-trailer accidents. The current rules require drivers to take a 30-minute break within their first eight hours on duty each day and do not permit the driver’s 14-hour clock to stop.
The OOIDA’s petition does not seek to eliminate the rule requiring drivers to take a minimum of 10 consecutive off-duty hours before starting their next driving shift.
“We think it’s time to seriously address the issue of lack of options available for truck drivers whose schedules are at the mercy of shippers, receivers, weather, congestion, and other obstacles, to operate safely,” said Todd Spencer, acting president and CEO of OOIDA.
“We are in a situation where we have never had more regulations and greater enforcement and compliance with those regulations. Yet, crash numbers are going in the wrong direction, it’s time for a new approach,” Mr. Spencer added.
The OOIDA maintains that the current regulations are “overly complex, provide no flexibility, and in no way reflect the physical capabilities or limitations of individual drivers.”
Mr. Spencer said that there are many situations in which the 30-minute rest break rule requires drivers to stop when they don’t need to. He said this creates a situation that is “either impractical or unsafe.”
He also argues that the current rules “force drivers to be on the road when they are tired or fatigued, during busy travel times and adverse weather and road conditions, or when they simply aren’t feeling well.”