Hours of services changes: Sooner and later

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If you have any doubt about whether the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., are getting the message about needed flexibility in the hours of service revision, worry no longer. I attended part of the fifth hours of service public hearing last week in Louisville, Ky., and the calls for a more sensible approach to sleeper berth splits came through loud and clear from speaker after speaker. Whether those pleas result in wise action is another matter, of course.

You can view video of the entire day, or read our summary of the event.

I was impressed by FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro, who made a point of talking with truckers before the hearing started. Whenever truckers mentioned long records of safe driving as they introduced themselves before the FMCSA panel, Ferro interjected her compliments. She also recognized one lady who had participated in that morning’s Health Awareness Walk for truckers.

In her opening remarks, Ferro, who has attended some of the earlier hearings, appeared genuinely concerned about finding a workable system that would allow for more flexibility, but in ways that will “protect us from those who abuse the system.” She and her panel posed lots of questions to those attending.

Ferro said there will be further opportunity for comment before the agency issues a final rule, which is due by July 2011.

But what’s much closer is another big rulemaking – one for electronic onboard recorders. Before the proceedings began, Ferro told me it’s expected to be released any day. My colleague Avery Vise reported on its background and other details of how the rule could develop. Look for more coverage of EOBRs in the May Overdrive.