FMCSA finally listening to drivers?

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On the subject of the hours of service, my entire time covering the trucking industry has been to the ever-more-visible backdrop curtain of calls (to really mix metaphors) to introduce some sort of flexibility into the current, rigid 14-hour window for drivers to take short sleeper berth periods and not risk losing valuable driving hours. The current FMCSA administrator, Anne Ferro, in her remarks to the Mid-West Truckers Association convention in Peoria, Ill., over the weekend, highlighted her agency’s laudable effort to gain insight into the current HOS rules from all industry parties, not just the safety number crunchers and advocates out there, toward potentially revamping the rule.

For once, drivers seem to be part of the regulatory process in a manner meaningful enough that some actually single out the agency under the new administrator for praise, not a necessarily common occurrence among drivers and owner-operators. I had the chance a few weeks back to sit down with 46-year trucking veteran and Perkins Specialized leased owner-operator Dick McCorkle (pictured, and who blogs himself as part of Freightliner’s Slice of Life program here) at the TA in Nashville for a couple hours’ chat before he rode on to deliver north and east in Ohio. McCorkle sees the current hours rules as the best we’ve had, but does think there needs to be some flexibility in the system, particularly for teams. All the same, he says, “I do believe that this new administration is listening to the truck drivers, with the hours of service hearings [then ongoing]. It seems FMCSA is really getting involved with the truck driver, and that’s a good thing” — and, he added, a long time coming. (For more about McCorkle, stay tuned for my “Exit Only” column in the March edition of Truckers News.)

In the Jan. 28 listening session, at a location quite near an Iowa, truckstop, as my colleague Max Kvidera’s excellent story indicated, drivers were making their voices heard. Click here for that report, if you missed it. And as Administrator Ferro made note of in her speech this weekend, you can still file comments on the current hours-of-service rules to make your own voice heard on the issue. Follow this link and click “Submit Comment.”