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US truckers' hours-of-service proposals 'in the final stages of review'

ADMINISTRATOR of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Raymond Martinez, has told the US Senate Commerce Committee that a proposed rule designed to update hours-of-service guidelines for truckers is 'in the final stages of review'

US truckers' hours-of-service proposals 'in the final stages of review'

ADMINISTRATOR of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Raymond Martinez, has told the US Senate Commerce Committee that a proposed rule designed to update hours-of-service guidelines for truckers is 'in the final stages of review'

24 June 2019 - 19:00

ADMINISTRATOR of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Raymond Martinez, has told the US Senate Commerce Committee that a proposed rule designed to update hours-of-service guidelines for truckers is 'in the final stages of review'.

'As you know, it's a process iterative with the Office of Management and Budget, but I really do believe we are in the very final stages of that process,' Mr Martinez said in response to a question from Senator Deb Fischer, Republican-Nebraska, during the hearing about surface transportation re-authorisation. 'I'm hopeful that it will be in short order.'



The FMCSA's proposed rule on hours-of-service (HOS) changes was delayed from its June 7 release date.



Last August, the agency published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking seeking comments on short-haul HOS limits, an exception for adverse driving conditions, the 30-minute rest break provision and the allowance of sleeper-berth users to divide off-duty time into two separate periods. The notice received more than 5,200 comments and the FMCSA held five listening sessions with stakeholders 'concerning potential changes to the areas discussed in the notice,' Mr Martinez said in his opening statement.



Ms Fischer was one of several lawmakers who asked Mr Martinez about flexibility within the proposed rule, especially in the agriculture and livestock industries. The agency head said he believed the HOS changes 'will apply across the board,' but the FMCSA has prepared an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to seek comment on the definition of an agricultural commodity.



'We have been fully engaged with the industry representatives here in Washington and also with our colleagues over at the Department of Agriculture to make sure that we are sensitive to the specific needs of those in the agriculture community and specifically the livestock community,' he said in response to a question from Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican-Tennessee.



Senators also pressed Martinez about allowing 18- to 20-year-old commercial truck drivers to operate in interstate commerce. Currently, drivers between those ages can only operate in intrastate commerce, reports American Shipper.



'In large geographic states like Florida, California and New York, you can drive all over the state, but you can't cross state borders. It makes you scratch your head,' Mr Martinez responded to a question from Senator Rick Scott, Republican from Florida. 'The rule has been in place since the 1930s. It deserves a good hard look now because things have changed. We have new technologies that may be able to monitor and tell us not all drivers under 21 are the same.'



FMCSA recently announced it is taking applications for a pilot programme to permit drivers 18 to 20 years old who possess the US military equivalent of a commercial driver's license to operate large trucks in interstate commerce.



Senator Jon Tester, Democrat from Montana - who introduced the DRIVE Safe Act earlier this year with Senator Todd Young, Republican-Indiana - raised concerns about getting accurate information in the pilot programme due to the military requirement.



Mr Martinez said people in the National Guard and the reserves could be under 21 and eligible for the pilot programme, for which he hopes to have at least 200 participants.


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