Here’s hoping the Fourth was spent in some fashion appropriate for the day for you. I worked, some, I played, a little, I thought over recent polling on a promised hours of service revision that has been promised, and delayed, and promised and speculated upon and delayed a little more. As of now, best guesses put later this month as timing for a release, though a lot of us here at Overdrive guessed we’d see something July 3 after close of business hours, given past agency practice around rules sure to inspire ire and debate — or litigation from one side or another.
To cap this week, though, let’s celebrate the spirit of a system in which we can all at least participate by speaking freely. (Let’s also acknowledge that pretty much everybody, though lawmakers and regulators are in some senses duty-bound to hear us, is equally free to just ignore our speech.) We’ll celebrate by hammering home some of the views of, well, you, as represented in part by recent polling about chief hopes for outcomes of the hours of service revision you’ve been promised in the wake of the 2017 ELD mandate.
What do you most want out of a revised hours of service rule?
It is the case, of course, that DOT leaders from FMCSA Chief Ray Martinez on up to the Secretary of Transportation seem to have at least heard the message of most truckers when it comes to the hours of service rule. Almost 6 in 10 of the recent-poll respondents as shown above favor the reintroduction of greater flexibility, whether generally, as it pertains to the split-sleeper options, or the desire for a return to pre-14-hour-rule regs.
Cue Todd Campbell, commenting under the poll here at OverdriveOnline.com: “Flexibility like we had before the 14-hour rule. No 30-minute break — we take breaks daily.”
Or Travis Copeland, who favored a small-carrier ELD mandate exemption much like that under consideration in Congress in House Bill 1697, and proffered a tiered hours system with the current rules in place for beginners and levels of flexibility offered with tenure. Copeland would start that at the 10-year mark with more available “hours to drive, no 14-hour-rule, and flexible split sleeper” up through the 15th year, where veteran haulers might enjoy “full flexibility — no HOS. Your safe driving record speaks for itself. Allow veteran drivers the ability to operate as needed. Of course, all safety and CSA scores [would be] applicable and your HOS status can be dropped as needed.”
The FMCSA may be unlikely to shake things up so much, given the likelihood of challenges from forces in opposition to any change in the hours of service — most of them outside of the trucking industry. Yet Copeland wasn’t the only commenter urging a major relaxation of the rules for proven safe drivers in this round. (And this idea has been around for quite some time — longtime readers will recall then-owner-operator Jeff Clark‘s modest “Gold Card Drivers” proposal during the debate over hours changes in Anne Ferro’s FMCSA way back in 2010, which I first wrote about here.)
Other voices on hours in the wake of polling shown above:
Michael Huff: Other than removal of the mandatory 30-minute break, I would love [to see] the removal of the maximum hours a week. I feel they limit the amount of money that we as drivers can make. I also know that I feel more tired after a 34 hour restart than I did before.
Richard Davis reminded everyone of the four areas of inquiry the FMCSA specifically asked about in its initial request for comments on hours, including potential expansions of short-haul drivers available hours, “hours of adverse driving [conditions extensions, split-sleeper, and the 30-minute break.” Davis called these “the least of the problems in trucking. If they do anything about any of those, it won’t help most truck drivers.” He concurred with Huff’s comment when he noted “the 70-hour rule needs to be done away with. Let drivers do their job while they are away from home” with the time available to them.
David: We need to be able to stop the 14-hour clock. Delay times at shippers and receivers are eating us alive. Hey FMCSA, it’s not rocket science!
Pete: Make shippers/receivers accountable. Two hours is plenty of time to load/unload a trailer. Longer than that is when carriers get screwed up with hours and making their next appointment. That’s when driving tired and accidents happen.
“Quit stalling,” noted Clint in his message for regulators, ultimately: “Get some relief for us.”