FMCSA Strongly Denies Latest Speculation About Hours of Service Reform
Washington D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is not revealing much, if anything, about the timeline of when to expect a final Hours of Service (HOS) rule or even if it is going to issue new HOS reform.
It’s been more than two months since the FMCSA closed the public comment period on its proposed HOS changes.
During that time the Agency has been silent on the matter, even to most industry insiders.
According to more than a dozen sources who often have direct knowledge of the Agency’s thinking on a host of issues, all is quiet on the HOS reform front.
The FMCSA’s silence on the issue has added to the speculation among industry stakeholders about the timeline of an announcement or if the Trump Administration will issue a final rule at all.
Multiple trusted sources have questioned the timing of former FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez’s sudden departure and suggested the Agency may either delay in issuing a final rule or choose not to do so altogether.
Mr. Martinez announced in October he would be stepping down from his post at the end of the month.
When recently questioned about this, an FMCSA spokesperson flatly denied Mr. Martinez’s departure has had any impact on the Agency’s handling of the issue.
“No, not in any way,” he told Transportation Nation Network (TNN) before Christmas.
Many stakeholders were hoping a final rule would be announced before the end of 2019.
However, it doesn’t appear that is going to happen.
“We will not speculate on timelines or ‘might be’s,’ but the Agency continues to review the thousands of public comments it received on the proposed rule,” the FMCSA spokesperson stated.
Additionally, multiple sources expressed concern the Agency may choose to simply not take up this fight in 2020 because it will be an election year.
Most expect powerful special interest groups such as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), among others, to immediately file litigation to stop any new rule if/when it is issued.
The Trump Administration may think better of it before they hand the leadership of these groups, which historically support Democratic candidates, new talking points that could sway some rank and file members who cast their ballot for President Trump in 2016 to vote Democratic in 2020.
Still, one credible source predicted, “FMCSA is going to come out with something next year some time. It could happen in the spring, but the political aspect of this can’t be ignored.”
As for the FMCSA, the spokesperson stressed again the Agency “won’t comment or speculate on ‘might be’s.'”
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