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Trucking news: ATA again calls for proposed Hours-of-Service changes to be shelved

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
September 08, 2011

In the latest sign that the trucking industry is less than pleased with proposed changes to truck driver Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the American Trucking Associations recently penned a letter to Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget, asking that the White House consider not signing the proposed changes into law.

Among the proposed HOS changes introduced by FMCSA last December are:
-lowering the maximum time on-duty within the driving window from 14 hours per day to 13 hours per day;
-for the driving window, the standard driving window would remain at 14 consecutive hours and 16 hours no more than twice per week, with release from duty required at the end of the driving window regardless of length;
-reducing the legal daily driving time from 11 hours to 10 hours although both 10 and 11 hours are both being considered;
-under the current rules there is no limit on consecutive hours of driving, but the new rules would require a minimum 30-minute break after a maximum of 7 hours driving or working in order for a driver to continue driving; and
-maintaining the 34-hour restart as part of the 60-to-70 hour weekly on-duty limit but the restart must include two periods between midnight and 6 a.m. and it may only be used once a week.

If these proposals become law, many industry stakeholders contend that they collectively will reduce the amount of time carriers have to move freight and hinder available trucking capacity.

“Late last year, DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration FMCSA proposed costly changes to truck drivers’ hours-of-service rules which, if finalized, would result in reduced wages for hundreds of thousands of drivers, significant administrative and efficiency costs for trucking companies, and most importantly, billions of dollars in lost productivity’”  wrote ATA Senior Vice President of Policy and Regulatory Affairs Dave Osiecki in the letter to Sunstein. “These inefficiencies and costs would deal a serious and sustained blow to the huge ‘tangible goods’ economy that trucking supports, affecting not only shippers of freight, but ultimately consumers. DOT described its proposal as a means to further improve trucking’s highway safety record.  Yet, FMCSA’s own regulatory impact analysis showed that the proposal’s costs outweigh any potential crash reduction benefits.”

Osiecki added that the current HOS rules, which have been in place since 2004, have allowed the trucking industry to move more than 70 percent of U.S. goods while achieving record low levels of crashes and fatalities.

What’s more, the ATA has previously stated that truck-involved fatality rate has dropped by 36 percent since 2004, which is nearly double the overall fatality rate U.S. highways. And they cited United States Department of Transportation (DOT) data.

The original date for the FMCSA’s final HOS rule was July 26, but it has since been pushed back to October 28, due to four studies issued by FMCSA that were introduced during the HOS rule comment period that focus on the relationship between fatigue and driver safety:
-The Impact of Driving, Non-Driving Work, and Rest Breaks on Driving Performance in Commercial Motor Vehicle Operations;
-Hours of Service and Driver Fatigue-Driver Characteristics Research;
-Analysis of the Relationship Between Operator Cumulative Driving Hours and Involvement in Preventable Collisions; and
-Potential Causes of Driver Fatigue: A Study On Transit Bus Operators In Florida.

“With the current rules accident rates per million miles are down, fatalities are down,” said Tom Sanderson, president and CEO of Transplace. “Arbitrarily choosing to take an hour out of available driving time makes no sense, and the 34-hour restart provision causes these anomalies of incremental lost productivity depending on when you deliver.”

And Stifel Nicolaus analyst John Larkin said on a conference call hosted by his firm this week that the proposed HOS rules could potentially remove three-to-six percent of current productivity from the trucking industry.

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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More talking remains before the deal is done

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