Proposal would limit drivers to 12 hours on-duty time

Key aspects of the proposed hours- of-service (HOS) revisions may also fundamentally alter the way the trucking industry operates, though Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater hopes they won't create a negative impact.

At a press conference last month in Washington, D.C., Slater said: "We understand how important the trucking industry is in this country, but this is not just an issue of productivity. We have the obligation to the American people to have the safest transportation system in the world."

Major HOS revisions proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), include the following:

* All drivers will now function on a 24-hour daily cycle, instead of the current 18-hour cycle.

* There will no longer be a difference between "on duty/driving" and "on duty/not driving." Instead of the 10 hours of driving and 15 hours of on-duty time allowed by the current rules, the proposed revisions will limit drivers to 12 hours on-duty time, period.

* Electronic onboard recording devices (EOBRs) will be mandated for longhaul and regional truckers once the final rule goes into effect. Companies with over 50 trucks will have two years to install EOBRs; companies with between 21 and 50 trucks, three years; and companies with less than 21 trucks, four years.

The EOBRs are intended to replace and eliminate paper logs, said Julie Cirillo, acting deputy administrator for the FMCSA. However, truckers who do not install EOBRs will not be allowed to function under the proposed revisions, she said. Instead, they'll be limited to 10 hours of on-duty driving time.

n There will be rules for each of five driving types - longhaul, regional, local-split shift, local, and work vehicle - with flexibility built into some. Details are listed below.

Longhaul (Type 1). Drivers who operate more than two or more off-duty periods away from their normal work reporting location must have at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty in each 24-hour period. They must also have two hours off-duty during the work shift. The 12 hours of on-duty time has to be broken up by two hours of off-duty time.

Regional (Type 2). Drivers who operate only one off-duty period away from their normal work reporting location must also have at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty in each 24-hour period. They must also have two hours off-duty during the work shift.

Local split-shift (Type 3). Drivers who operate within a six-hour drive of their work reporting location and return to that location at the end of the shift must have at least 9 consecutive hours off-duty in the 24-hour period. They must also have an additional three consecutive hours off-duty at some other point during the same 24-hour period.

Local (Type 4). Drivers who operate within a six-hour drive of their work reporting location and return to that location at the end of each shift must have at least 12 consecutive hours off-duty in each 24-hour period.

Work vehicle (Type 5). Drivers whose primary duties are duties other than driving and who report to work and are released from work at the same normal work reporting location must have at least nine consecutive hours off-duty in each 24-hour period.

Weekly on-duty time would be limited to no more than 60 hours for Type 1-4 drivers and 78 hours for Type 5 drivers, said Cirillo.

Generally, longhaul and regional drivers must be off duty for a period that includes at least two consecutive midnight-to-6 a.m. rest periods at the end of the work week. Drivers in the other categories must be off-duty for the same period, with the minimum time for local and work drivers ranging between 32 and 56 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of each work week - depending on when they go off-duty, said Cirillo.

The public will have 90 days to comment on the proposed HOS revisions, with seven public hearings scheduled in: Atlanta, Denver, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Springfield Mass., and Washington, D.C. However, both DOT and FMCSA are intent on publishing a final HOS rule by the end of this year, which means the 90-day comment period will most likely not be extended, said Cirillo.

To read the entire proposed HOS rule, click on http://dms.dot.gov. For information about the public hearings, contact Stan Hamilton, FMCSA, at 202-366-0665.

Written comments can be electronically filed by using the form at: http://dmses.dot.gov/submit/ BlankDSS.asp. Comments can be mailed to the following address (make sure you write "Docket No. FMCSA-97-2350" at the top of your comments before filing them): Docket Clerk, U.S. DOT Dockets, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street SW, Washington D.C. 20590-0001

Jay-Fer Enterprises announces it has acquired the trucking fleet of Idahoan Foods. The tractors and trailers will form the core of a new nationwide TL carrier, Golden Valley Transportation, a subsidiary of Jay-Fer.

Rollins' customers are being offered preventive maintenance service in a fraction of the usual time with the rollout of the Rollins QuikServe system. Available by appointment and performed during refueling to save fleets an extra trip to the shop, QuikServe includes a comprehensive 294-point PM procedure that takes only about an hour.

Triggered by employer complaints and company-filed injuries as far back as 1998, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in February began inspecting more than 400 truck carriers and trucking-related companies nationwide. The companies were targeted for inspections because they had 14 or more days of work-related injuries or illnesses per 100 workers, compared to the national average of 3 injury or illness days per 100 workers. Company names will not be made public until after the inspections are done.

To reflect a broader business scope, CNF Transportation Inc. has changed its name to simply CNF Inc. CNF companies include Con-Way Transportation Services, Emery Worldwide, and Menlo Logistics.