HOS Battle Continuesby Jana Ritter - Published: 11/21/2013
On Wednesday Duane Long, chairman of Raleigh, N.C.-based Longistics, told members of the House Small Business Committee that unnecessary changes to federal hours-of-service rules for truck drivers were having serious negative impacts on the industry.
As first vice chairman of the American Trucking Associations, Long is joined by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association — both reiterating their stances against the restart and break provisions of the rule and their support for essentially repealing the rules.
"Simply put, the July 1 hours-of-service rule changes were unnecessary; the regulations adopted in 2003 were working and the administration offered rhetoric but little data to explain why they needed to be changed," said Long. "Unfortunately, the gap between the administration's rhetoric and the trucking industry's operating reality is very wide. These changes are having a very real, and very negative impact on hundreds of thousands of drivers and motor carriers."
In testimony before the Small Business Committee's Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce, Long detailed the impacts, as reported by the American Transportation Research Institute on the rest patterns and productivity of truck drivers and the operational impacts on fleets. Long noted the impacts were particularly acute for team drivers at Longistics, disrupting the lives of his roster of experienced drivers.
"They resent the intrusion of the government on their daily work routine," he said, "they resent the new restart restrictions and the effect they are having on their ability to make a living."
ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said in ATA’s announcement that Congress should support the TRUE Safety Act, the House bill that would delay the July 1 hours rule until the Government Accountability Office could study the methodology used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to create the hours rule. The bill, he said, “will put the brakes on these rules until they can be thoroughly vetted,” Graves said. “We’re confident that once they are independently and objectively reviewed, FMCSA will have no choice but to undo what it has done.”
A report released Nov. 20 by OOIDA — similar to a report released this week by the American Transportation Research Institute — said 65 percent of driver respondents to its membership survey said they have seen their pay decrease since the new provisions took effect. Moreover, 56 percent of the 4,000 drivers surveyed said they’d lost miles, and 46 percent said they have felt more fatigued since the July 1 effective date.
OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said FMCSA needs to stop “micromanaging” drivers’ time, and that the new rules decrease drivers home time and cause them more stress, in addition to cutting their pay and miles. The rules also cause drivers to have to run in the most congested hours of the day.
“Instead of providing the flexibility to drive when rested and stop when tired, the new rules have put drivers in the position of driving more hours than ever and in the worst traffic conditions, and spending less time at home,” Spencer said. “How is that safe?”