Final hours-of-service rule submitted to OMB
ORLANDO, Fla. – A final rule adding flexibility to U.S. hours-of-service rules was submitted last night to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. Jim Mullen, acting administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made the announcement this morning at the Truckload Carriers Association’s annual convention. “It’s my priority to get these modifications finished,” Mullen said, though he couldn’t offer a timeline for OMB approval.
Mullen said listening sessions were held across the country to garner input on the proposed rule changes, and more than 8,000 comments were submitted to the docket. Mullen also commented on the drug and alcohol clearinghouse, acknowledging there were some technical issues in the early days, but assuring they’ve been resolved. There have been more than 680,000 registrants since it rolled out in early January, and nearly 9,000 drivers who either failed or refused a drug test have been identified.
“If they don’t go through the return to duty status program, they’re not going to be hired and they’re not going to be driving commercial vehicles,” Mullen said. The transition from automatic on-board recording devices to electronic logging devices (ELDs) has gone smoothly, Mullen reported, and is having an impact. Mullen said there’s been a 52% reduction in hours-of-service violations since the ELD mandate was implemented, and in roadside inspections, less than 1% of drivers are not complying with the ELD mandate.
Asked what the FMCSA is doing about non-compliant ELDs, Mullen acknowledged the U.S. differs from Canada by not requiring third-party certification, but he doesn’t think abuse is widespread.
Jim Mullen Mullen said money and resources were a consideration when opting for self-certification of devices. “We have a process in which we can decertify ELD vendors,” said Mullen. “We look at that process very closely.”
He called on the trucking industry and manufacturers of compliant devices to help the FMCSA identify ELDs that can be manipulated. “Help us detect how you can circumvent the rules to allow fraud and abuse and what the industry can do on a voluntary basis to assist FCMSA identify these issues,” he urged. Mullen also said the FMCSA continues to look at the safety of allowing 18- to 20-year-olds with military experience to drive in interstate commerce, and is also considering rolling out that pilot project to those without military backgrounds.
Their safety performance will be compared to drivers aged 21-24 to determine if restrictions from operating in interstate commerce should be lifted. Finally, Mullen thanked the trucking industry for its role in combating human trafficking. He noted human trafficking is the fastest-growing business sector in the world.
“That’s astonishing and it’s horrible,” he said. “We know truck drivers are in the unique position to help combat human trafficking and we know they are doing so on a daily basis, and we thank them for it.”