Dear Administrator Martinez,
On August 23, 2018, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a proposal to amend portions of Hours of Service (HOS) focusing on revising four main provisions: (a) The short-haul HOS limit; (2) the HOS exception for adverse driving conditions; (3) The 30-minute rest break provision; and (4) the sleeper berth rule to allow drivers to split their required time in the sleeper berth. In addition, the Agency seeks public comment on petitions for rulemaking from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and TruckerNation.org (TruckerNation). Pursuant to the Federal Register notice, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) respectfully provides its comments and recommendations on the FMCSA Proposed Rule.
NASDA supports FMCSA initiative to address some of the challenges that the agricultural community faces with the implementation of the HOS rule, and urges the agency to engage with impacted agricultural stakeholders. While NASDA is committed to the safety of our highways, we also recognize that changes that allow for more flexibility within HOS might be needed to address some of the challenges that the agricultural community faces with this rule.
NASDA represents the Commissioners, Secretaries, and Directors of the state departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. State departments of agriculture are responsible for a wide range of programs including food safety, conservation, and fostering the economic vitality of our rural communities. NASDA members are co-regulators and key-partners with the federal government on a host of issues that impact the agriculture community.
i. Comments on Proposed Changes to Hours-of-Service
Short Haul Operations
NASDA supports the proposal to extend the current 100 air mile short-haul exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty. This is an important step to promote consistency and simplify the rules to drivers.
HOS exception for Adverse Conditions
NASDA supports the proposal to extend the current 14-hour, on-duty limitation by up to two hours in adverse driving conditions. This proposal should allow for some flexibility when drivers are faced with unique situations.
NASDA supports the revision of the 30 minutes break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving. NASDA believes that more flexibility should be incorporated to this provision to allow haulers to adapt to different situations.
NASDA supports the examination of the sleeper berth provision and whether regulatory flexibility could be introduced to improve drivers’ rest time.
NASDA recognizes the role that FMCSA’s play in promoting transportation safety, and respectfully requests for more flexibility within HOS regulations. Thank you for the opportunity to comment. Please contact Aline DeLucia at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 296-9680 with additional questions. We look forward to working with you.
Executive Director, Public Policy