Representative John Boozman (R-AR) has introduced legislation that is aimed at improving the current Hours of Service (HOS) rules. These rules are currently being revisited by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMSCA) after a federal appellate court vacated the HOS rules because they failed to consider the effects on the health of drivers.
“The court’s decision highlights the fact that the health of the driver is an important contributing factor to safe driving,” says Boozman. “While FMCSA 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. This makes for an unnecessary strain on truckers and creates more incidents of driver fatigue.”
Boozman’s legislation would allow truck drivers to take up to two hours of off-duty time during their daily tour of duty.
Last year, Boozman presented several ideas as to how FMCSA could improve the Hours of Service rule. He proposed these ideas by writing letters to FMCSA and as well as introducing an amendment to the Highway Bill. Boozman withdrew his amendment after securing a promise from the Chairman that they would continue working on the issue during the conference committee.
Last year, the conference committee did not finish their work and the Highway Bill was not finalized. Therefore, Boozman has introduced this legislation in an effort to push the Transportation Committee to revisit the issue as they consider the Highway Bill in the 109th Congress.
“We do not have the right to say that truck drivers don’t have time for meals or rest breaks. We don’t do this in other industries and we certainly shouldn’t require it for a job where safety is so important,” says Boozman. “In an industry where we are experiencing a scarcity of drivers, and in an environment where we are trying to increase safety, allowing optional voluntary time for rest breaks is the right thing to do.”
Boozman’s efforts to address this issue has attracted bipartisan support, with 17 of his colleagues supporting the legislation as original cosponsors.