Ray Martinez, head of the U.S. DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, confirmed Monday that the agency is planning to propose a rule to overhaul hours of service regulations. Martinez’s announcement comes after the agency tested the waters last fall with an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, in which it solicited feedback from industry stakeholders on potential HOS reforms.
Martinez spoke Monday at the Omnitracs User Conference in Dallas. His comments were the first true public confirmation that the agency intends to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking intended to overhaul hours of service regulations, though Martinez did not offer any insight as to what the rule will entail. He also did not offer a timeline for when the rule would be published.
He confirmed the rule has not yet been sent to the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, who must approve the proposed rule before it is sent to the Office of Management and Budget. OMB must also approve the rule before FMCSA publishes it. That process usually takes weeks, if not months. A U.S. DOT official told Overdrive last month that the partial government shutdown earlier this year could slow the pace of the hours proposal.
Under the ELD mandate, the agency has been receiving data from motor carriers that “highlights areas in the current existing hours-of-service regulations that we may need to adjust or improve,” said Ray Martinez. “Now that’s a good thing.”
The agency received over 5,200 specific comments for the ANPRM published last August. “I will say that given the great feedback and the quality of the comments received from industry and from stakeholders and from safety advocates, that we are very, very excited about the prospects of moving forward,” he said.
Martinez hinted that greater flexibility for splitting on- and off-duty time into segments, generally referred to as split-sleeper berth options, is likely to be included in the proposal. During the comment period, FMCSA received “excellent quantitative and qualitative information” on the subject, he said.