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ATA slams proposed HoS changes; CTA more receptive

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Proposed changes to the US hours-of-service rules announced Dec. 23 may have been less drastic than many in the industry had feared, but they still met with much criticism.



WASHINGTON, D.C. — Proposed changes to the US hours-of-service rules announced Dec. 23 may have been less drastic than many in the industry had feared, but they still met with much criticism.

The rules, which may – or may not – reduce driving time to 10 hours per day (the FMCSA expressed its preference for the reduction, but said it would first consult with the public), add stipulations to the 34-hour restart and allow extensions to the 14-hour workday in some situations, sparked mixed reaction. But the American Trucking Associations (ATA), which had been sounding warnings of a potential loss of driving time, reacted strongly to the announcement.

“When viewed against trucking’s sterling safety record,” said ATA president Bill Graves, “it’s plain that the Obama Administration’s willingness to break something that’s not broken likely has everything to do with politics and little or nothing to do with highway safety or driver health.”

Highway safety records would seem to bear truth to that contention. Since the current hours-of-service rules were introduced in 2004, the trucking industry in the US has seen crash-related fatalities decline 33% from 2003 levels while both fatality and injury crash rates have reached historic lows.

Graves said the proposed rules will do nothing to improve highway safety, and are “overly complex, chock full of unnecessary restrictions on professional truck drivers and, at its core, would substantially reduce trucking’s productivity.”

The ATA warned the proposed changes “will be enormously expensive for trucking and the economy.” The association pointed out the FMCSA itself estimated, just two years ago, costs of over $2.2 billion if the daily drive time was reduced by one hour and the restart provision was significantly changed. ATA also contended that just two years ago, FMCSA concluded that “eliminating the eleventh hour is unlikely to be cost effective under any reasonable set of circumstances.”

“This proposal includes even more restrictions than what FMCSA previously considered,” said Graves.

While the ATA is naturally opposed to the reduction in daily allowable driving time, it also takes issue with the fact the new rules would reduce maximum daily working time by an hour (drivers will have to complete all work-related activities within 13 hours to allow for a one-hour break) and would revise the 34-hour restart, requiring two consecutive off-duty periods from midnight to 6 a.m.

In a strongly worded news release, the ATA accused the FMCSA of contradicting itself.

“Especially troubling is this Administration’s disregard for the negative safety impacts the proposed changes would have – impacts expressly recognized by FMCSA in the past,” the ATA said. “For example, FMCSA previously found that the eleventh hour of driving time does not increase driver weekly hours; is used for flexibility purposes; does not increase driver-fatigue risks; and that eliminating it would promote more aggressive driving (to meet time constraints) and lead to placing tens of thousands of less experienced drivers on the road who would pose greater crash risks. With respect to the 34-hour restart, FMCSA has correctly found in the past that requiring two nights of sleep would disrupt drivers’ circadian cycle and add to more daytime driving in congested periods, again increasing crashes. FMCSA’s reversal on these crucial matters is hard to explain in other than political terms.”

The ATA officially unveiled a Web site it had prepared to counter some of the arguments against the current HoS at www.SafeDriverHours.com.

In Canada, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), said the rules were “not as bad as thought.” As far as the prospect of a 10-hour driving day is concerned, CTA chief David Bradley said “The science of fatigue suggests that it is not the amount of time a person works or drives that is the determinative factor for driver fatigue – it’s whether the driver is getting the appropriate opportunity for rest, and then uses those opportunities effectively.”

Bradley was pleased to see the reset provision remain, in some form, and was seemingly less apocalyptic about the proposed revisions than his American counterparts.

“Clearly, the FMCSA wants to try and ensure that a driver gets two consecutive night-time sleeps before he or she can reset their clock,” he reasoned. “That may create some logistical complexities; we’ll have to take a closer look.”

Bradley also noted that shippers will need to understand and appreciate the fact all work-related duties will have to be completed within 13 hours.

“We have fixed working windows now,” says Bradley. “They are difficult to manage and can put added pressures on drivers to drive when they might otherwise rest to make sure they get their work done. Shippers and consignees are going to have to pay much more attention to this to avoid delays for loading/unloading.”

He commended the FMCSA for introducing an option to extend a driver’s daily shift from 14 hours to 16 twice a week when issues such as loading/unloading delays occur.

“Clearly, FMCSA is sensitive to the fact that drivers can be delayed for reasons beyond their control and are attempting to address it,” he said.

Bradley said he has received no indication from regulators that Canada would move to match the new US rules.

“Things could change, but I just don’t sense that the provinces or Transport Canada want to open that can of worms again – at least not right now,” he said.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) did not rush to judge the proposed changes.

“We have been anxiously awaiting the public release of the proposed new rules,” said OOIDA executive vice-president Todd Spencer. “We are carefully analyzing the proposal, but I can tell you that to make additional safety gains, the next hours-of-service rule must be more flexible to allow drivers to sleep when tired and to work when rested. The rules must encourage truck drivers to get off the road when they are tired and must not penalize them for doing so.”

OOIDA took the opportunity to espouse that hours-of-service regulations are not the be all and end all when it comes to truck safety on the highways.

“We want the motoring public to know that it’s not just about how long a truck driver spends behind the wheel that affects the safety of everyone on the highways,” said Spencer. “Many truck drivers spend between 30-40 hours per week waiting at loading docks. Everyone involved in transportation, from shippers to receivers, has a responsibility for its role in keeping highways safe. And we won’t have optimum safety until others in the supply chain truly act responsibly.”

The FMCSA has posted it proposed rules online at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hos.

If the rules are put into place, violations will result in penalties of up to US$2,750 for each offense. Carriers that allow drivers to violate the rules will face fines of up to US$11,000 for each offense. Beginning Dec. 29, public comments will be accepted via the FMCSA Web site.


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12 Comments » for ATA slams proposed HoS changes; CTA more receptive
  1. Trent Young says:

    The Hours Of Service should remain as they are. Change will only hurt the legitimate drivers. Especially company drivers that are mandated by their companies to follow the rules as indicated by the FMCSA, where violations of the law, even by one minute, could easily result in termination. However, not so scrupulous companies could continue to run their “comic books” or multiple logs. In my 32 years out here on the road I’ve talked to a multitude of drivers that are forced to run as their company deems fit not matter what federal regulations or laws are. So please… keep us on the somewhat level playing field we are on now.

  2. don bell says:

    another case of puting politics ahead of truck drivers. how a driver is suposed to make a living on dwindling hours is a mystery. it seems to me that governments on both sides are trying to make the trucking industry bail out both country

  3. Hammer Down Truck n Trailer says:

    AS a retired canadian driver going south to drop and pickup a load in the US to bring back to Canada must say if they drop the driving hours to 10 from 11 this will stop me from getting home intime for my days off and many comic books willnot have to be fudged.If the shipping companies would go back to appointments as it was, this would stop the fudging of the comic books and the drivers would not get tired as much.So please do not drop the hours of driving, but inprove the shipping companies ways.

  4. Dave Patraschuk says:

    I find it amazing that goverenments can pick on one aspect of the trucking industry. Hours of Service is the only issue to safety, so be it.

    However they never seem to look at the othere aspects of our job. Of course we have more exposure when you figure we drive around ten thousand miles per month where the average Joe drives less than that in a year. If you do the calculations I’m sure the results would put us in a zero crash category.

    With the current H.O.S. rules the only real way they can work is if the shippers and recievers work on the same scheule as ours, or plan a whole lot better than they do. You know that won’t happen as that would mean putting more people to work to cover this game plan.

    Also if the trucking industry would adhere to that kind of schedule it would work. For example; if appointments are required one should be billing the shipper/ reciever for exact time not some 2 or 3 hour grace period that they insist on having to make themselves look good or pass delays onto the trucking company. As we all know these wait times eat into our hours of work. Besides with a great number of loads being palletized, it shouldn’t take 3 to 4 hours to load a trailer.

    Should it ever happen that the rule makers understand the industry and look at the whole picture there would be some positive changes.Up until then I guess they will only make our life a little more frustrating.

  5. Billy says:

    Nothing to do with safety. Nothing to do with science. Nothing to do with the proof provided by the decline in accidents since the last set of changes.

    Everything to do with special interest groups like parents against tired truckers who have no knowledge of the industry but do have deeply heartfelt beliefs do to some unfortunate circumstance that has touched their lives and involved a truck, no matter how misguided they may be. Whether the truck was at fault or not by the way. They are apparently at least percieved as a very big voting block and that is what it really comes down to.

    I can’t understand how the courts could uphold the challenges such groups have made to the last set of changes to HOS when it is so crystal clear that they succeeded in achieving the goals they were made for. The governments need to stand up to a whole bunch of these special interest groups, not just those against trucking, and tell them that while they may have valid concerns, are well funded and loud, there is a much larger percentage of the population that either doesn’t agree or just plain doesn’t care but still must be considered.

    There will likely never be a perfect solution and most definetly never one that pleases everyone but the rules currently in place work very well according to all of the statistics I’ve read so I’d have to agree that they are looking for something that isn’t broken to fix.

  6. Don says:

    2 periods of off duty from 12 – 6 hummmm. not even 8 consecutive hours and then all truckers get up and join the rush hours which cuts back on drive time and in some cases increases stress which is something we should be helping eliminate not increase. why doesn’t the government look at the overall improvement made by the trucking industry and say the trucking industry and especially the drivers have made huge gains in improving the safety of our streets and highways and everyone involved will continue to measure safety as a top priority.

    or

    geez guys it looks like we can only have trucks on the road from 6am – 6pm.

  7. George Callas says:

    Here we are right in the middle of a recession where China is kicking the crap out of us and they’re considering reducing our driving time.These clowns want to run us to the ground with all their rules and regulations.If a worker or a company are not productive then you might as well head for the hills and let China take over America.I sleep only 6 hours a night and in 5 years I’ve never had an accident.

  8. frank says:

    does the groups that what these changes relize what the the cost to them and other consummers will be as they continue to cut our hrs
    every driver knows if these changes are passed then in a few years it will be done again and that canadian rulemakers will follow making it harder and harder for drivers to get home where they get quality rest
    Is the gov,t of both countries willing to invest more money into truckstops and restareas to accomadate all the Parked Trucks

  9. arvinderdhaliwal says:

    If a driver spend his day or night in a Truckstop or home under the influence of any kind of intoxication i.e drug,alcohal,smoke or any other kind of substances to get the required sleep in a night under the noise of truck or other noise is not a resting sleep forget about the sleep which is requried some times in a day.
    A driver who adust himself or his sleep according to the load pick up or drop off and rush hours and then take the requried rest no doubt is a rested driver.(Not a better).

  10. grizz says:

    CSA 2010 is going to call all log book form and manner mistakes as fatigue. What has happened to common sense? In a few years
    the statistics will show we are all fatigued and need electric monitoring. we have no rights.

  11. marty says:

    I started as a o/o in 1987 after spending a year in my relatives truck learning the ropes. In 1997 thru 1999 i had my own company and gave up on it after all the b/s in the industry. I became a driver till 2005 when i got hurt and for one year became a instructor at one of Canada’s main transport training schools. Imagine telling new students that you have to learn the old log book rules and at the same time you ‘ll learn the new Canadian rules and you’ll also have to learn the new U.S. log book rules, yes 3 full sets of log book rules in one week of in class with every thing else they need to learn and 3 weeks in the truck of hands on, i had students scared out of their minds. Now they want to change the rules again. When are they going to be satisfied. But hey they couldn’t even get it together and give a test to new students to be sure they were up to the demanding role of being a truck driver. Many students half way thru the program said if they new it was this hard they would have picked another profession and the students had to get their license or pay back the money to E.I. With almost 3 million accident free miles i’ve had enough of the b/s and fines that can range up to $5000 at customs and $375 for forgetting to dot an i or cross a t i now drive gravel trucks, home at night in my own bed no log book, seasonal work and once in a while i think maybe i should go back on the highway i’ll just look at a truck news issue and see the b/s still going on and think i’ve got it made now. So to all the trainers, new drivers, seasoned drivers, o/o’s i hope you don’t get that awefull disappointing taste of a industry that just can’t get their crap together.

  12. john says:

    trying to live in this world of people making the rules when they themselves have not lived in the situation. truck driving is an art of constantly living in a world of trying to sleep maybe a nighttime that doesn’t consist of waking up a 2:30 am and make a delivery or get in line to hope you get unloaded at your proper time. Its trying to sleep during the daylight hours when its 95 plus out try to conserve fuel because your dispatch complains about fuel usuage or keeping your truck warm when its to cold to even get comfortable. To those of you whom are making these rules remember this to live a life of everytime you get off work “GO TO BED” sleep 10 hours wake up and start over and when 14 to 16 hrs is up “GO TO BED”. try it. Figure it out. Truck driving is living with a constant, and I mean constant, life of everyday changes to your sleep patterns. Every truck driver out there is in a fatique mode on a daily basis. We are like the military respect us to get the job done at the hours it needs. We are not out to kill people on the highway but trying not to let them kill us. Pay me what I am worth and with these changes drivers will comply. Listen to experienced drivers its not about the hour ist about the pay check. WE DON’T GET PAID TO SIT AROUND TO GET UNLOADED OR SLEEP BUT WE WANT RESPECT TO LIVE AWAY FROM OUR HOME AND THE RESPECT TO KNOW AMERICA DOESN’T MOVE WITHOUT US. PERIOD !!!!

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