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New Hours of Service Rule Will Speed Project Delivery While Maintaining Road Safety

Mon May 18, 2020 - National Edition

New updates to the federal "hours of service" rule will speed up construction of transportation improvement projects while maintaining road safety, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).

"The revisions will help transportation construction contractors deploy project personnel more efficiently, saving on time and costs while maintaining high standards for safety," said ARTBA President and CEO Dave Bauer. "These updates are especially needed for transportation construction to play a crucial role in our nation's economic recovery."

Under the jurisdiction of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the hours of service rule governs the amount of time truckers can spend on the road. The rule is principally directed at long-haul drivers, seeking to prevent fatigue and compromises to safety that can come from long hours and miles behind the wheel.

In contrast, the majority of truckers in the transportation construction industry drive for much shorter distances and time periods. Because the same rule applies to them, the hours of service "clock" has often prohibited them from driving later in the work day or work week, even though they have spent little time on the open road.

The updates to the rule will enact two specific reforms for which ARTBA has spent years advocating:

  • Expanding the "short-haul" exemption from 100 to 150 air miles.
  • Counting non-driving activities towards satisfying the agency's 30-minute rest requirement.

These provisions will increase flexibility in deploying drivers who actually spend most of their day waiting in queues for loading and unloading materials, delivering construction equipment and helping with other project tasks. They will especially help contractors working on a critical project under an intense, accelerated schedule, such as replacing a bridge over a single weekend.

"Correcting this misapplication of federal requirements is the type of regulatory reform that all sides should support," Bauer added. "ARTBA appreciates the Trump administration's continued efforts to improve a federal regulatory structure that has often impeded the efficient delivery of transportation infrastructure projects."

The rule update will take effect 120 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

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