A truck driver records his hours on an electronic logging device
A truck driver records his hours on an electronic logging device

HFA supports Hours of Service revised rules

The Home Furnishings Association has submitted comments supporting revised Hours of Service regulations for truck drivers who haul furniture and other goods.

HFA members “rely on the safe and efficient movement of goods across our country, from ports and factories to retail stores and warehouses and finally to customers’ homes,” the association said in comments to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. “They utilize contract carriers and, often, their own trucks and crews for relatively long hauls and final-mile delivery.

“Serving customers means completing deliveries on time and at reasonable cost. Nothing delays deliveries or adds to costs more than accidents on the road. That’s why HFA members care deeply about highway safety and strongly support Hours of Service regulations, which have served the industry well for many decades. We know that safe drivers are well-rested and careful to follow all applicable regulations, and that this conclusion is supported by data.”

The HFA comments were crafted by its Government Relations Action Team, which is led by Matt Schultz of John V Schultz Furniture in Erie, Pa.

“We appreciate the thorough work the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has done to craft its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” HFA said. “The introduction of additional flexibility within the existing Hours of Service framework is likely to maintain safety while allowing carriers to make more efficient use of maximum driving hours. The overall effect will be to help our members achieve their goal of safe, on-time delivery of products to customers at a reasonable cost.”

The comments addressed the following specific proposals:

Short-haul operation

“HFA believes that lengthening the on-duty period from 12 hours to 14 hours and that extending the exemption from the electronic logging device requirement from 100 air radius miles to 150 air radius miles is reasonable and brings the short-haul exception into line with other existing exceptions.”

Modified 30-minute rest break

“Currently, drivers spend portions of their on-duty time not driving but waiting for loading or unloading, or fueling, or completing paperwork. This proposed change sensibly recognizes that fact by allowing them to satisfy a 30-minute rest-break requirement with the status of ‘on-duty, not driving’ rather than ‘off-duty.’ This would not impact the requirement for a break after eight continuous hours of driving, but the driver would be granted more flexibility in how to utilize the break from driving.”

Split-sleeper berth

“The proposal adds one hour of additional flexibility for the driver, who could split 10 off-duty hours into two periods, one of at least seven hours (rather than eight) and a second of not less than three hours (rather than two). Seven hours may be the minimum practical sleep requirement, but supplementing that with a second, lengthier rest period may better serve some drivers’ needs.”

Split-duty period

“This proposal gives drivers the discretion to pause their 14-hour driving window, if necessary, with an off-duty break of at least 30 minutes but not more than three hours, if 10 consecutive off-duty hours follow the work shift. Although this should not be a routine practice, it balances a long driving window with a long, uninterrupted rest period.”

Adverse conditions

“Unforeseen circumstances, whether brought about by weather or traffic, can play havoc with a driver’s schedule and make it difficult for him to pull off the road when he reaches the end of his maximum on-duty time. Allowing drivers, infrequently, to extend their on-duty time by up to two hours in response to adverse conditions is reasonable.

“These proposed revisions advance the goals of promoting safety while facilitating the efficient movement of goods on our nation’s roads and highways.”

The deadline for submitting comments is Oct. 7. All HFA members who have an interest in transporting furniture by truck can express their views about the proposed revisions to Hours of Service regulations.

A listening session held by FMCSA Sept. 17 can be heard here.

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