If the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration decides to proceed with any hours of service reforms after it wraps up its recently announced feedback tour, FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez hopes to expedite the rulemaking process, he said Friday when speaking 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 last week in announcing the agency’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking — that the agency will only move on hours reforms if it receives the feedback and data necessary to do so. (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, “We’ve been accused of moving at a slow pace.” 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.”
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. The first was held Friday at the Great American Trucking Show, in which about 20 owner-operators and small fleet owners provided suggestions to the agency for changes to hours of service. Most of them argued in favor of returning to split-sleeper flexibility to allow drivers to segment their on- and off-duty time and to end the 30-minute break requirement. Read full coverage of that session at CCJ sister site Overdrive.
Another listening session 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.