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Possible Delay to Hours of Service Implementation? Not Likely...

DON JERRELL
HNI Associate Vice President

News of a Capitol Hill meeting on Hours of Service regulations set for next week has inspired some "wishful thinking" among motor carriers hoping for a delay in the July 1 implementation date.

This isn't the case -- next week's meeting will NOT result in immediate legislative changes to the controversial rules. The panel, set to meet June 18, is a House of Representatives oversight committee that lacks authority to put the brakes on HOS regs, which go into effect July 1.

The short story is that legislative action must involve the U.S. Senate, and this committee doesn't reach that far. The House controls funding, and if lawmakers want to stop funding for the enforcement of HOS, that elimination would have to be written into the next highway bill in 2014. 

The meeting next week does include some heavy hitters in the transportation industry:

    • Anne Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration
    • Mark Savage, president of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Administration executive committee
    • Joan Claybrookconsumer co-chair of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
    • Steve Williams, chairman and CEO of Maverick USA, representing American Trucking Associations
    • Edward Stocklin, president of Stocklin Trucking, representing the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association
    • Jeffrey Dean Hinkle, transportation manager at Chandler Concrete Company, representing the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association

What's the goal of the oversight committee meeting? It's to show FMCSA that there are legitimate concerns about the 34-hour restart, as well as the mandatory 30-minute break, both of which are scheduled for implementation July 1. While the committee can't legislate changes or dictate action on the part of FMCSA, the meeting may help air concerns that could lead FMCSA to make a decision to delay the roll out the new HOS regulations.

Although stranger things have happened (especially at FMCSA), the reality is that FMCSA already denied a request to delay the new HOS rules by at least 90 days until after a final judicial decision on Hours of Service petitions. (The HOS petitions, on which a final decision has not been released, dates from March.) A similar plea by House representatives also was denied by FMCSA.

So — are the new HOS regs going to happen or not? Your guess is as good as mine, but the final decision will be FMCSA’s (unless the judge’s final decision is to change the Hours of Service and the decision is released before July 1). The oversight committee meeting will be webcast by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

To prepare motor carriers for the now-probable implementation of the new regulations, HNI has put together an HOS video training series that will be released next week.  Click here to request a link to view online or a DVD to share with drivers as soon as it's available!

Topics: Transportation