HOS reform: Now’s the time to comment, says Martinez, who hopes to ‘fast track’ potential rulemaking

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Ray Martinez spoke to a small group of the trucking industry press Friday morning at the Great American Trucking Show.Ray Martinez spoke to a small group of the trucking industry press Friday morning at the Great American Trucking Show.

Should the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration choose to take up hours of service reforms after it concludes its recently announced feedback tour, the agency intends to move swiftly through the rulemaking process, said FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez, who spoke to a small group of reporters on Friday at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas.

“We’re committed to moving on this,” he said. “I don’t think this should be an issue that languishes. If we move forward to the [proposed rule] stage, I would imagine it would follow that pattern. We want to move this on a fast track if possible.”

Martinez reiterated what he said Tuesday in announcing the agency’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which is FMCSA’s vehicle for receiving formal comments on potential changes to hours regs. Comments can be filed at this link.

“There’s no guarantee” that the agency will move to the next phase of the rulemaking, he said, unless it receives feedback and data necessary to do so. “We’ve been accused of moving at a slow pace,” he said. But “you’ll note we put a 30-day comment period” on the ANPRM, “which is very aggressive,” he said. “We’re doing that to send the message that we want to move on this. Anybody that cares about this issue, this is the time to step forward and inform us.”

Readers responded to Overdrive‘s call for comment, rounded up this morning in this special-edition Overdrive Radio audio mailbag:

Martinez on Tuesday announced that the agency has opened the process of reforming hours of service regulations, highlighting four areas FMCSA hopes to see feedback around: (1) Extending drivers’ daily 14-hour clock by two hours should adverse conditions arise; (2) adding split sleeper berth flexibility to hours regs, (3) nixing the 30-minute break requirement and allowing short-haul drivers to operate 14 hours in a day instead of the current 12-hour allotment.

“We’ve turned a corner now,” Martinez said Friday. “This is a process. Give us the information you think would be relevant to making a decision [on] whether we — and this is critical — whether we move forward with a [proposed rule]. And if we do, what would be included and why.

“I don’t want people to get lazy [and say] ‘this is already on track and it’s going to happen.’ It will only happens with if there’s participation and good information is provided,” he said.

FMCSA is holding multiple public listening sessions, in addition to the public comment period. One will take place at the Great American Trucking Show on Friday, and another is scheduled for Sept. 14 at FMCSA headquarters in Washington, D.C. Dates and locations for the other two will be announced once they’re finalized, Martinez said.

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