Texas lawmaker seeks to “modernize” current HOS regulations for drivers

The recent Mid-America Trucking Show was a lively event, to say the least.

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Ray Martinez, recently confirmed administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, hoped his first “grass roots outreach” with truck drivers at the trucking Show wouldn’t be an “angry event.”

As it turns out, the owner-operators and small-company drivers in attendance had a lot they needed to get off their chest.

Martinez’s “listening session” morphed into 90 minutes of owner-operators and drivers raking FMCSA over the coals for issues presented by the electronic logging device rule, time forfeited both on the highway and at loading docks, and restricting workdays to 14 hours, among other things.

This same ire spilled over into a question-and-answer session on hours of service and driver personal conveyance issues led by Joe DeLorenzo, director of FMCSA’s office of compliance and enforcement.

Nearly 20 minutes of the hour-long session consisted of independent operators yelling at DeLorenzo, claiming that the new ELD regulations, which went into full effect April 1, would be the end of their small businesses.

However, less than a week after drivers and owner-operators aired their grievances at the Mid-America Trucking Show, a Texas lawmaker seems to have heard their cries for change in the trucking industry, introducing legislation that could “modernize” current Hours of Service regulations for truck drivers.

“The Responsible and Effective Standards for Truckers (REST) Act,” (H.R. 5417) was introduced March 29 by U.S. Rep Brian Babin.

“I’m proud to introduce the REST Act today and give America’s truckers the options they need to safely operate under today’s rigid federal regulations,” said Rep. Babin. “This bill is an important step in making the way for improved highway safety.”

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So how could the REST act affect HOS regulations?

According to a March 23 press release from Babin’s office,

“The REST Act would allow drivers to take one rest break per shift, for up to three consecutive hours. The single off-duty period would not be counted toward the driver’s 14-hour, on-duty allowance and would not extent the total, allowable drive limits.”

“The REST Act requires the Department of Transportation to update Hours of Service regulations to allow a rest break once per 14-hour duty period for up to 3 consecutive hours as long as the driver is off-duty, effectively pausing the 14-hour clock.  However, drivers would still need to log ten consecutive hours off duty before the start of their next work shift.  It would also eliminate the existing 30-minute rest break requirement.” 

Todd Spencer, acting president and CEO of the Owner Operator Independent Driver Association, was pleased with this move by the Texas lawmaker.

“We thank Rep. Babin for recognizing the need to address the lack of options for truckers trying to safely operate under today’s overly rigid federal regulations. We want to see improvements to highway safety and what we have right now isn’t going to get that done.”

As for diesel prices, the United States On-Highway Diesel Fuel Price was $3.04 as of April 2, 2018. This national average is .003 higher than one week ago.