Hostility toward proposed changes to truck driver hours of service rules could come to a boil at a Feb. 17 public hearing with federal regulators in Arlington, Va.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will hold a public listening session from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and take questions online from noon until midnight.
The listening session, which will be held at the Crowne Plaza Washington National Airport hotel, will be broadcast live on the agency's Web site, www.fmcsa.dot.gov.
The trucking industry largely opposes the proposed changes, which would shorten the number of hours truckers could work and drive each day and week.
A copy of the FMCSA notice of proposed rulemaking on hours of service, published in the Dec. 29 Federal Register, is available to download.
Although the FMCSA hasn't decided whether to drop the daily driving limit from 11 hours to 10 hours, other provisions of its proposal would cut into driver time.
Under the proposed rule, all work must be completed within 13 hours, rather than the current 14. A mandatory break would complicate driver schedules.
The 34-hour restart provision that allows drivers to start a fresh week after 34 hours off-duty would be changed to include two midnight-6 a.m. periods. That could extend the restart period by several hours, forcing drivers to stop for two nights.
Trucking and shipping interests say the proposal would force them to put more trucks on the road to haul the same amount of freight, increasing costs.
Safety advocates, including Public Citizen, complained the proposals don't go far enough to reduce excessive driving time and get fatigued drivers off the road.
For information on how to participate in the public listening session, contact David Miller of FMCSA's Office of Policy Plans and Regulation at 202-366-5011.
The FMCSA held five public listening sessions on HOS rules last year before releasing its proposed rule. Under a court settlement with Public Citizen and the Teamsters union, the agency must issue a final rule by July 26.
-- Contact William B. Cassidy at firstname.lastname@example.org.