In recently submitted comments on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on hours of service (HOS) for commercial drivers, CVSA indicated if implemented the proposed rules could have the unintended consequence of reducing overall commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and motorist safety. According to CVSA, the changes could make roadside enforcement more complex and open the door toward more drivers falsifying their records.
“Each year, CVSA-certified inspectors conduct nearly four million inspections all across North America, which provides CVSA with an unmatched level of real-world experience in commercial driver and vehicle safety,” said CVSA’s Executive Director Stephen A Keppler. “The consensus from our state and jurisdictional enforcement members regarding these proposed rules is that they are confusing and not easily understood. The proposed rules, in our view, will be more difficult to enforce roadside than the rules in place today.”
As CMV crash rates have declined significantly while current HOS rules have been in effect, CVSA contends the agency’s proposal does not appear to substantiate the need for proposed regulatory changes. Instead, CVSA encourages enabling more tools for enhancing enforcement and additional exploration of the effect between HOS, fatigue, and performance before considering any drastic changes to the current rules.
CVSA cited enforceability as the most challenging portion of these proposed changes. With no current regulation requiring supporting documents for drivers to maintain on the vehicle, inspectors will have a more difficult time checking validity of record of duty status (RODS) entries. Additionally, falsification is a major concern as in some cases fueling, loading, unloading, and other forms of on-duty time will be listed on the RODS as resting in—or upon—a parked vehicle.
NPRMs for both HOS and electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) also provide no funding provisions for training of enforcement personnel and technology upgrades that will be necessary. With no additional funding provided to enforcement entities already stretched thin by limited resources, further enforcement needs could go unmet. As a result, uniformity may degrade under the proposal.
CVSA also recommended that FMCSA facilitate and promote implementation of fatigue management programs and driver health and wellness programs in the industry.