We need an act of Congress.
A new bill by Texas Republican Brian Babin would amend the controversial hours of service that has been the bane of truckers existence since the rollout of the ELD mandate whereby commercial drivers must document their work activity with a digital device rather than old fashioned paper logs. The bill called Responsible and Effective Standards for Truckers Act or the REST Act would not add driving hours but pause the clock on the federally regulated 14 hours of service where drivers may drive for 11 hours. The proposed bill would give drivers up to 3 hours of rest and eliminate the 30 minute break period.
More flexibility is seen as absolutely necessary for commercial drivers who encounter a series of challenges including traffic, weather, and detention times when a trucker is waiting to be loaded or unloaded. All these factors bite into hours of service and with the new ELD mandate drivers cannot simply fudge the numbers to match the legal requirements.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been under intense pressure by the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association to change HOS laws however only an act of congress could modify federal law. The legal justification for the HOS is to prevent accidents due to drivers falling asleep at the wheel however OOIDA points out there has been no change in trucking accidents since the rollout of the ELDs in December of 2017.
Furthermore the ELD mandate/HOS issue is plaguing the logistics industry with a capacity crunch where supply of truckers cannot meet the demand. This is driving up rates for shippers especially with regard to the spot market but also contracted rates which are expected to increase in 2018. It has been noted by economists that while the trucking companies are increasing driver pay and passing the cost onto the shippers, companies like General Mills or Hershey cannot simply increase the price of their goods on retail store shelves as easily.