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Friday, February 23, 2024

FMCSA Head Wants HOS Comments, Now


Addressing the media Thursday morning at The Great American Trucking Show, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration chief, Ray Martinez, reiterated the need for driver’s comments on the advance notice of public rulemaking regarding changes to the hours of service.

“This is an opportunity for people who are concerned about this issue to step forward and inform the FMCSA about how the current hours of service might be amended to alleviate some of the problems we’re hearing about with flexibility,” Martinez said.

He describes the 30-day comment period as “aggressive,” and said it represents his commitment to expedite agency action, which has been criticized in the past for the slow pace of governmental change.

“The response we’re hoping to get is to inform the FMCSA of what you like about the four different areas – you don’t have to like them all, but we want to hear what you like, and how it can be implemented in your business without affecting safety,” he said. “I can’t comment on whether, if or what will be included in the final rule, but can tell you that it happens with participation and good information.”

Martinez encourages all drivers to go and make comments, and share data they might have to support their comments. He will also be present at the FMCSA booth on the floor of GATS on Saturday, to hear driver concerns.

The agency announced an upcoming advance notice of proposed rule making that will consider changes to four areas of the current hours of service regulations:

  • Expanding the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on duty to 14 hours on duty, in order to be consistent with the rules for long-haul truck drivers;
  • Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions;
  • Revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving; and
  • Reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks that are equipped with a sleeper-berth compartment.

Comments will be accepted on the advance notice of proposed rule making until Sept. 24.  FMCSA collects comments on its docket at Regulations.gov.

Before you start through the electronic process on the internet, be sure you have the correct Docket ID. This is how the system knows what you are specifically talking about in your comments.

The Docket ID identifies a regulatory action the agency is putting in the record for public view and possible comment. It will contain a series of letters and numbers separated by dashes. For example, FMCSA-2018-0248 is the docket for the advanced notice of proposed rule making on hours of service. The dashes are critical when looking up a particular rule making. When you’re searching for a specific document to comment on, if you use the dashes incorrectly – or not at all – you won’t find the document you’re looking for.

The following steps will walk you through finding the docket that is open for comments and into the comment process.

  • Go to Regulations.gov
  • Fill in the “Search” field with the Docket ID (FMCSA-2018-0248) and either hit enter or click on “Search.”
  • Click on the title of the docket you want to comment on. Once on that page and there will be a “Comment Now” button appearing. Click on the icon.
  • Type in your comment
  • Fill in your name (You can do it anonymously, but names are better)
  • You don’t have to give your contact info (If you do, it will appear with your comments)
  • Under category, select “Public Comment(s)”
  • Hit continue
  • Preview your comments
  • Hit “I read and understand the statement above”
  • Click “Submit comments”

You can have someone else do it for you online, too, if you want to enlist a kid, grandkid or tech-savvy friend to help. 

The steps are the same except that on the first page they should click that they are submitting for a third party and fill out their info as the representative. The other fields are unnecessary in terms of organization and such.

Of course, submitting comments electronically via the Internet isn’t your only option. If you prefer to hand-write or type it out and fax it? Easy enough. On the top of the page include the Docket ID. Make sure you include your name. 

Then you can:

  • Fax comments with the Docket ID number (FMCSA-2018-0248) to 202-493-2251; OR
  • Mail comments with the Docket ID (FMCSA-2018-0248) number to:

Docket Management Facility

U.S. Department of Transportation

Room W-12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE

Washington, DC 20590-0001

Or, if you are super ambitious, hand deliver comments between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday except on federal holidays to the ground floor of the U.S. Department of Transportation building, Room W-12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, D.C.