New Hours of Service Rules Delayed Again, as White House Review Drags On

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has yet to debut new Hours of Service rules for truckers and other interstate commercial drivers.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is apparently still reviewing the proposal, and so far, there’s no word on when that process might conclude.

How the Hours-of-Service Rules Could Change

The Hours of Service rules are intended to reduce the risk of fatigue-related commercial vehicle crashes. Among other things, the regulations restrict long-haul truck drivers to 11 hours of driving time within a 14-hour on-duty window and require a 30-minute break after 8 hours behind the wheel.

The Trump-era FMCSA is currently considering four key changes to the Hours of Service regulations:

  • Expand the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty.
  • Extend the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to 2 hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
  • Revise the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after 8-hours of continuous driving.
  • Reinstate the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks equipped with a sleeper-berth.

New Regulations Were to Debut on July 31st

The FMCSA was planning to publish its final Hours of Service rule proposal on July 31st, following an initial delay attributed to last year’s government shutdown.

Earlier this week, however, a spokesperson for the OMB confirmed that the revisions remained under review. He also declined to speculate on a possible publication date, noting that the office “historically does not comment on rules until review is finalized.”

The trucking industry – one of President Trump’s most loyal backers – is anxiously awaiting the Hours of Service rule revisions, and insists weakening the regulations will allow truckers more flexibility without compromising safety.

Fatigued Truck Drivers Kill Someone Almost Daily

According to NPR, however, fatigued truck drivers kill someone on the road nearly every day. Deadly truck and 18-wheeler crashes are already up 40% since 2009, and safety advocates are understandably concerned that the impending Hours of Service rule changes will only lead to more fatal accidents.

“We really should not be considering weakening the regulations we should be considering enhancing them,” Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, told NPR. “The safety of everyone traveling on our roads is at stake.

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