CVSA reacts to FMCSA rejection of personal conveyance petition

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is evaluating its next course of action after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Sept. 18 denied a CVSA petition requesting that the agency update its definition of personal conveyance and clarify a mileage limit.

A letter written by FMCSA acting administrator Wiley Deck and addressed to CVSA Executive Director Collin Mooney claims that the CVSA proposal lacks a “sufficient safety basis” to proceed with rulemaking that “would essentially propose arbitrary limits without any evidence of safety critical events avoided.”

CVSA filed the petition in May, after FMCSA announced a controversial final rule the agency claims adds flexibility to hours-of-service regulations. The rule went into effect Sept. 29.

“We understand the agency’s position on personal conveyance,” Mooney told Safety+Health, “but we still believe that it’s not addressed adequately.”

In June 2018, FMCSA issued guidance intended to clarify both the agricultural commodities exemption and the personal conveyance provision in HOS regulations.

According to the agency, personal conveyance – a driver’s movement of a commercial motor vehicle for personal use – is considered off-duty status and therefore does not affect HOS limitations.

However, CVSA contends in the petition that the guidance is “incomplete” without establishing a maximum distance and/or time a CMV operator can travel under the personal conveyance provision, stating that “a driver could, in theory, drive hundreds of miles over the course of several hours” under this designation, increasing the risk of driver fatigue and impacting roadway safety.

“Even though the agency says that setting a distance or time limit would be arbitrary, on the flip side of things, having things wide open for personal conveyance now is open-ended in itself, which is the whole point in the petition – why it’s creating issues,” Mooney said. “Because it gives the motor carrier industry and drivers an opportunity to hide hours under the premise of personal conveyance, which in fact is a falsification of the hours of service of the records of duty status. So, by providing that loophole, that gateway to camouflage or hide hours, we feel, is very problematic and jeopardizes highway safety.”

Deck writes that the guidance remains “an appropriate response to the issue, given the lack of research and data to support the adoption of specific restrictions.”

According to the guidance – which is effective until June 7, 2023 – other examples of personal conveyance include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Time spent traveling to restaurants and entertainment facilities from en route lodging, such as a motel or truck stop.
  • Commuting between the driver’s terminal and his or her residence, between trailer-drop lots and the driver’s residence, and between worksites and the driver’s residence.
  • Time spent traveling in a motorcoach without passengers to en route lodging, or to restaurants or entertainment facilities and back to the lodging.
  • Time spent transporting personal property while off duty.
  • Authorized CMV use to travel home after working at an offsite location.

McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment.

Hours-of-service changes expected to arrive on time

The time has come. Beginning on Tuesday, Sept. 29, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s changes to the hours-of-service regulations go into effect.

Aimed to ease some of the rigidness of the regulations, FMCSA made four changes to the rules that the agency said are intended to give truckers more control in determining when it is safe to drive.

Short-haul exception

The new hours-of-service rules expand the short-haul exception to 150 air miles and allows a 14-hour work shift to take place as part of the exception.

“Under the previous rule, a driver based in Peoria, Ill., could not service Chicago and St. Louis,” FMCSA wrote. “The new rule allows the driver to service those two cities, as well as an additional two hours to do so.”

To use the short-haul exception, a driver must start and end the shift in the same location.

Adverse driving conditions

The exception expands the driving window during adverse driving conditions by as much as two hours.

The revised definition of “adverse driving conditions” is snow, ice, sleet, fog or other adverse weather conditions or unusual road or traffic conditions that couldn’t be reasonably known to a driver before the start the on-duty period or immediately after a rest period, and to a motor carrier before dispatching the driver.

FMCSA provided an example of a driver that is 15 miles from his destination when there is a gravel spill on the bridge ahead and the bridge is the only access to the destination. In the example, the driver has one hour left of driving time and one hour left in the driving day. Under the new provision, the driver can stop at the next exit (for up to two hours) until the road is clear and still have time to get to the destination without violating hours-of-service rules.

The agency advises drivers to make an annotation in their electronic logging device when utilizing the provision and to include details about the adverse driving condition.

30-minute break requirement

The new hours-of-service rules did not eliminate the 30-minute break mandate after eight hours of driving, but they do allow the break to be fulfilled through 30 minutes of on-duty, nondriving time. The change means that instead of taking the break off duty, the trucker can now take the break while getting fuel or while completing a maintenance check.

FMCSA emphasizes that under the change, drivers can either satisfy the break off duty, in the sleeper berth, or on duty while not driving. The 30-minute break can’t be broken down into increments.

Sleeper berth provision

The new rules modify the sleeper berth exception to allow drivers to take their 10 hours off duty in two periods, provided one off-duty period (whether in or out of the sleeper berth) is at least two hours long and the other involves at least seven consecutive hours spent in the sleeper. Neither period counts against the maximum 14-hour driving window.

The split could be 8/2, 7/3, or even 7.5/2.5.

FMCSA provided an example with a driver starting day one having just completed 10 consecutive hours off duty. In the example, the driver is on duty from midnight until 1 a.m. and then drives until 7 a.m. The driver then takes a three-hour break until 10 a.m. and goes back on duty until noon before resuming his drive until 5 p.m. Then the driver goes into the sleeper berth from 5 p.m. until midnight. In this example, the trucker had 11 hours of driving time and the break periods did not count against the driver’s 14-hour window.

new hours of service sleeper berth provision - FMCSA
Courtesy FMCSA/U.S. DOT

FMCSA video

FMCSA created a video to explain the rule changes that can be found here.

“The main part of this rule is to provide flexibility to drivers in how they schedule their days to be most efficient, safe and productive in their activity each day,” Joe DeLorenzo, FMCSA’s acting associate administrator of enforcement, said in the video.

FMCSA provides a series of questions and answers regarding the new rules here.

Opposition

The new hours-of-service rules are poised to go into effect despite a recent lawsuit from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and a coalition of safety groups.

On Sept. 16, the groups filed a petition for review of FMCSA’s final rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Before filing the lawsuit, the groups petitioned the agency to reconsider the final rule, calling it “flawed.” FMCSA denied the petitions, emphasizing that the rule changes did not provide additional driving time.


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment.

Group files suit against FMCSA, DOT over final rule amending trucker hours-of-service regulations

As new hours-of-service regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are scheduled to go into effect Sept. 29, a group has filed a petition asking a federal court to overturn the new rules.

As new hours-of-service regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are scheduled to go into effect Sept. 29, a group has filed a petition asking a federal court to overturn the new rules.

Washington — A coalition of roadway safety advocacy groups, in conjunction with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation challenging a controversial final rule FMCSA claims will add flexibility to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers.

In the lawsuit, filed Sept. 16 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, Parents Against Tired Truckers, and the Teamsters request a reexamination of the final rule as well as their petition for FMCSA to reconsider the rule. The groups filed the petition June 30, and FMCSA denied it Aug. 25.

At press time, the rule was slated to take effect Sept. 29. The petitioners call the rule “flawed” in a Sept. 16 press release.

“Under the guise of increased flexibility, the changes will further exacerbate the already well-known threat of fatigue among commercial motor vehicle drivers by significantly weakening current HOS rules,” the release states.

Under the rule, announced in a May 14 agency press release and published in the June 1 Federal Register, FMCSA will:

  • Change the short-haul exemption to 150 air miles from 100, and 14 hours on duty from 12, to be consistent for rules with long-haul truck drivers.
  • Extend the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
  • Revise the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving.
  • Reinstate the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks equipped with sleeper berth compartments.

In the petition, the groups contend that “the final rule is not in the public interest and does not meet the agency’s statutory mission in carrying out its duties to assign and maintain safety as the highest priority.” They cite National Highway Traffic Administration data showing that 4,951 fatalities in incidents involving a large truck occurred in 2018, as well as additional research highlighting fatigue-related hazards associated with the profession.

Preliminary data released in NHTSA’s May 2020 “Traffic Safety Facts” report shows that fatalities in incidents involving a large truck are projected to have increased 1% in 2019.

“If I fall asleep on the job, my head hits the keyboard,” Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said in the Sept. 16 release. “If a truck driver falls asleep, his/her head hits the windshield, and that’s only part of the catastrophic outcome. Allowing operators to work longer hours and drive farther distances without proper rest breaks and other protections ignores science, data and expert opinion.”

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa also expresses his opposition to the final rule in the release.

“By issuing this HOS regulation, FMCSA has bowed to special trucking industry interests at the expense of highway safety, seeking longer workdays for drivers who are already being pushed to the limit,” Hoffa said. “We join this lawsuit to ensure that our members and their families are protected from fatigued drivers when they use our nation’s roadways.”

The rule doesn’t include a proposed provision that would have allowed covered CMV operators one rest break of up to three consecutive hours during every 14-hour on-duty period. However, under a proposed FMCSA pilot program published in the Sept. 3 Federal Register, CMV operators would be allowed one rest break of up to three consecutive hours but no less than 30 minutes during every 14-hour on-duty period. Comments on the pilot program are due Nov. 2.

In a May 14 video posted on the DOT’s YouTube channel, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said the final rule’s provisions “will help drivers reach their destination safely without feeling like they’ve got to race against the clock to comply with federal mandates. They will also help truckers get the rest they need when they need it. When safety rules make sense, drivers are better table to comply, and that benefits everyone.”


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment

FMCSA Announces New Commercial Driver Panel to Provide Feedback on Critical CMV Issues and Initiatives

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator (FMCSA) today announced it will be launching a new panel to its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) comprised of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.  This new panel will provide direct feedback to FMCSA on important issues facing the driving community—such as safety, hours-of-service regulations, training, parking, and driver experience.

“Truck drivers and other commercial vehicle operators are American heroes who have stepped up during the current public health emergency to keep our economy moving, so their input is essential to strengthening safety on the roads,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

This new panel is comprised of 20 to 25 drivers from all sectors of the CMV industry—tractor trailer drivers, straight truck drivers, motor coach drivers, hazardous materials drivers, agriculture haulers, and more. FMCSA’s goal with the new driver panel is to capture the wide array of viewpoints and experiences within the CMV community.

“The Department of Transportation and this Administration believe in listening to our drivers and hearing their concerns directly. We know that many of the solutions to the challenges we face don’t come from Washington—they come from the hard-working men and women who are behind the wheel all over our nation.  This new subcommittee to MCSAC will further help us hear from America’s commercial drivers,” said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Wiley Deck.

During the Trump Administration, FMCSA has focused on hearing directly from commercial drivers and incorporating their opinions and concerns into the Agency’s safety initiatives.  The Agency continues to hold listening sessions and discussions with the motor carrier industry to gather feedback and shape FMCSA’s priorities.

In May 2020, FMCSA published updates to the hours-of-service rules that were based directly off the feedback the Agency heard from commercial drivers regarding the need for increased flexibility and improved safety.


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment.

FMCSA pilot program would allow CMV drivers to pause hours of service for rest break

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Photo: vitpho/iStockphoto

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking public comment on a proposed pilot program that would allow commercial motor vehicle operators one rest break of up to three consecutive hours but no less than 30 minutes during every 14-hour on-duty period.

Under the program, announced in an Aug. 28 press release and published in the Sept. 3 Federal Register, CMV drivers could pause their on-duty period when taking the rest break, “provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off duty at the end of the work shift.” The agency estimates a sample size of 200-400 drivers for the program, which could last up to three years.

“FMCSA wants to hear directly from drivers about the possibility and safety of an hours-of-service pause pilot program,” Jim Mullen, who stepped down as the agency’s acting administrator at the end of August, said in the release. “The agency remains committed to exploring ways to improve safety on our roadways, while increasing flexibility for truckers. We encourage drivers, motor carriers and interested citizens to review the proposed pilot program and provide substantive public comments for FMCSA to review.”

The proposal comes on the heels of a highly anticipated final rule – published in the June 1 Federal Register and set to take effect Sept. 29 – FMCSA claims will add flexibility to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers. Under the rule, the agency will:

  • Change the short-haul exemption to 150 air miles from 100, and 14 hours on duty from 12, to be consistent for rules with long-haul truck drivers.
  • Extend the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
  • Revise the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving.
  • Reinstate the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks equipped with sleeper berth compartments.

However, the final rule doesn’t include a proposed provision that would have allowed covered CMV operators one rest break of up to three consecutive hours during every 14-hour on-duty period.

“In our comments on the recently revised hours-of-service rules, we called for a pilot program to study the impacts this type of change would have on highway safety and our industry,” American Trucking Associations spokesperson Sean McNally told Safety+Health. “We are pleased to see that FMCSA has taken our suggestion and we will work with the agency to ensure this program yields meaningful data that can be used for future rulemakings.”

Lewie Pugh, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, supports the proposed program as well.

“While we advocated that the final HOS rule should have included the split duty provision, we think the pilot program can provide substantive data to permanently give drivers more control over their daily schedules,” Pugh said in an article published Aug. 28 in OOIDA’s Land Line magazine. “We will work with the agency to ensure the pilot program is conducted in the most productive manner possible so additional HOS improvements can be implemented as soon as possible.”

Comments on the pilot program are due Nov. 2.


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment

Group petitions FMCSA to delay final rule amending trucker hours-of-service regulations

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Photo: Grafissimo /iStockphoto

Washington — A coalition of safety advocacy groups, in conjunction with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, is petitioning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to reconsider a controversial final rule the agency claims will add flexibility to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers.

Submitted June 30 and filed by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, Parents Against Tired Truckers, the Truck Safety Coalition, and the Teamsters, the petition requests a stay of the effective date of the final rule – slated for Sept. 29 at press time – until the FMCSA administrator can further review the petition.

Under the rule, announced in a May 14 agency press release and published in the June 1 Federal Register, FMCSA will:

  • Change the short-haul exception to 150 air miles from 100, and 14 hours on duty from 12, to be consistent for rules with long-haul truck drivers.
  • Extend the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
  • Revise the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving.
  • Reinstate the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks equipped with sleeper berth compartments.

The final rule doesn’t include a proposed provision that would have allowed covered commercial motor vehicle operators one rest break of up to three consecutive hours during every 14-hour on-duty period.

The petition cites National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data showing that 4,951 fatalities in incidents involving a large truck occurred in 2018, as well as other research highlighting fatigue-related hazards associated with the profession.

According to preliminary data released in NHTSA’s May 2020 Traffic Safety Facts report, fatalities in incidents involving a large truck are projected to have increased 1% in 2019.

“The final rule is not in the public interest and does not meet the agency’s statutory mission in carrying out its duties to assign and maintain safety as the highest priority,” the groups contend in the petition. “The agency had failed to address the significant risk to public safety posed by fatigued drivers of CMVs at a time when large truck crashes continue to increase.”

Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president, and Lamont Byrd, director of the Teamsters’ safety and health department, voiced their opposition to the final rule in a May 14 press release.

“In an effort to increase so-called ‘flexibility’ for trucking companies, the FMCSA is abandoning safety and allowing drivers to push themselves to the limit even further,” Hoffa said. “Trucking is already one of the nation’s most dangerous jobs. We shouldn’t be sacrificing the health and safety of drivers just to pad the profits of their big business bosses.”

yrd added: “Extending the workday to 14 hours for CDL-qualified short-haul drivers will result in an increase in occupational injuries and driver fatigue. We are also concerned with the revised rest break provision. This revised rule could allow a driver to spend hours performing physically demanding work and then drive up to eight hours without having to take a break.”

After multiple delays, FMCSA published a proposed rule in the Aug. 22 Federal Register. The initial comment deadline also was delayed before FMCSA on March 2 submitted the proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

In a May 14 video posted on the Department of Transportation’s YouTube channel, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said the final rule’s provisions “will help drivers reach their destination safely without feeling like they’ve got to race against the clock to comply with federal mandates. They will also help truckers get the rest they need when they need it. When safety rules make sense, drivers are better able to comply, and that benefits everyone.”

FMCSA final rule amends trucker hours-of-service regulations

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Photo: vitpho/iStockphoto

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has unveiled a highly anticipated final rule the agency claims will add flexibility to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers.

Under the rule, announced in a May 14 agency press release and slated to take effect 120 days after publication in the Federal Register, FMCSA will:

  • Change the short-haul exception to 150 air miles from 100, and 14 hours on duty from 12, to be consistent for rules with long-haul truck drivers.
  • Extend the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
  • Revise the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving.
  • Reinstate the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks equipped with sleeper berth compartments.

On the heels of multiple delays, FMCSA published a proposed rule in the Aug. 22 Federal Register and set an initial comment deadline of Oct. 7. The comment period later was extended to Oct. 21. FMCSA weighed nearly 8,200 comments on the proposed rule and, on March 2, submitted the proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

The final rule does not include a proposed provision that would have allowed covered commercial motor vehicle operators one rest break of up to three consecutive hours during every 14-hour on-duty period.

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao addressed the final rule in a May 14 video published to the Department of Transportation’s YouTube channel.

“These new commonsense rules give truckers more options when planning their days,” Chao says. “They will help drivers reach their destination safely without feeling like they’ve got to race against the clock to comply with federal mandates. They will also help truckers get the rest they need when they need it. When safety rules make sense, drivers are better able to comply, and that benefits everyone.”

CVSA reminds truckers: No ‘soft enforcement’ for ELD transition

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Photo: vitpho/iStockphoto

Washington — Commercial motor vehicle inspectors will not observe a “soft enforcement” grace period for drivers still using automatic onboard recording devices to track their hours of service after Dec. 16, and such drivers will be placed out of service for violating Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance warns in a Dec. 2 press release.

An FMCSA final rule requiring CMV drivers to track HOS via electronic logging devices took effect Dec. 18, 2017. However, the agency exempted for two years motor carriers who installed and used AOBRDs before the rule’s compliance date, giving them until Dec. 16 to transition to ELDs.

“Motor carriers utilizing an AOBRD must have a fully operational ELD installed by Dec. 17, 2019,” the release states. “If a commercial motor vehicle driver is required to have an ELD and the vehicle is not equipped with a registered compliant ELD, the driver is considered to have no record of duty status; that also applies to a driver still using an automatic onboard recording device after the AOBRD to ELD transition deadline.”

Speaking to Transport Topics in a Dec. 5 report, CVSA Executive Director Collin Mooney expressed confidence that a majority of motor carriers will be in compliance by the deadline. Still, Mooney said, the number of motor carriers who are not operating AOBRDs or have not chosen an ELD vendor has “eluded” the organization.