Congress could weigh in on HOS

Congress could weigh in on HOS

Congress could make highway bill and SAFETEA amendments for HOS

The fate of the embattled hours of service (HOS) regs may rest with Congress.

A proposed change to the SAFETEA (Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act) would make permanent the current HOS rules, according to a government source. The proposed new language sidesteps the current court ordered reexamination of HOS. Under the change, the current Congressional order that keeps the current HOS rules in place until Sept. 30 would become permanent.

Separately, FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg has recently made public statements on the agency’s intention to keep the current HOS rules unchanged.

On another front, Representative John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, has introduced a bill that would allow truck drivers up to two hours of off-duty time during their regular work schedule.

“While FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) may have thought that giving the drivers more consecutive rest time would be beneficial, the reality is, the rule has actually forced them to push harder to complete their workload,” said Boozman.

“He’s worked with the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) and a variety of other stakeholders, such as an HOS coalition that also wants the rules changed,” Boozman’s communication director Patrick Creamer told Fleet Owner, pointing to the FMCSA’s proposal to keep the current rules. “He’s trying to find other alternatives to what the agency (FMCSA) is proposing because they obviously won’t change the rules.”

The Boozman bill will be brought to the Committee for approval within “a couple weeks,” and then sent to Congress for consideration as they draft the highway bill if it gets a green light.

“If an amendment on hours of service was attached to the highway bill and was signed by the President, the new rule would supercede the regulations,” explained Creamer.

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