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UPDATED: Industry slams new ‘final’ rule on US hours-of-service

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The much-anticipated revisions to US hours-of-service regulations were released today.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The much-anticipated revisions to US hours-of-service regulations were released today.

While daily driving time was not changed from 11 hours, the maximum hours a driver can work per week was reduced by 12 to 70, by limiting drivers to one 34-hour restart per seven-day period. The new rules, laid out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also requires drivers who are maxing out their weekly work allowances to take at least two nights’ rest between 1 and 5 a.m. each week.

The revisions also require drivers to take a half-hour break after driving for eight consecutive hours.

“Trucking is a difficult job, and a big rig can be deadly when a driver is tired and overworked,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This final rule will help prevent fatigue-related truck crashes and save lives. Truck drivers deserve a work environment that allows them to perform their jobs safely.”

FMCSA administrator Anne Ferro added “This final rule is the culmination of the most extensive and transparent public outreach effort in our agency’s history. With robust input from all areas of the trucking community, coupled with the latest scientific research, we carefully crafted a rule acknowledging that when truckers are rested, alert and focused on safety, it makes our roadways safer.”

However, the final rule may be anything but final. The American Trucking Associations and Truckload Carriers Association had lawyers at the ready to challenge any revisions to the rules that were not in the industry’s favour. And the safety organizations behind the revisions were also likely to challenge any ruling they felt didn’t go far enough. Stay tuned for reaction. Meanwhile, you can see the full rules here.

OOIDA blasts new rules

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) was the first to respond to the new rules, declaring them a “one-size-fits-all approach” that will do nothing to improve highway safety.

“Collectively, the changes in this rule will have a dramatic effect on the lives and livelihoods of small-business truckers. The changes are unnecessary and unwelcome and will result in no significant safety gains,” said executive OOIDA vice-president Todd Spencer.

OOIDA was hoping any changes would involve more flexibility for truckers.

“Compliance with any regulation is already a challenge because everyone else in the supply chain is free to waste the driver’s time loading or unloading with no accountability,” said Spencer. “The hours-of-service regulations should instead be more flexible to allow drivers to sleep when tired and to work when rested and not penalize them for doing so. It’s the only way to reach significant gains in highway safety and reduce non-compliance.”

OOIDA pointed out the new rules will have a negative impact on productivity and the earning potential of truck drivers and owner/operators. The FMCSA noted the cost to industry is estimated to be US$470 million with benefits totaling $630 million. 

“Despite the fact that trucking has never been safer, federal regulators and big businesses continue to push for mandates that hurt small-business truckers,” said Spencer. “According to the latest data, fatigue is a factor in only 1.4% of all fatal wrecks involving truckers.”

ATA unhappy

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) was also, in its words, frustrated and disappointed with the new rules. Like OOIDA, ATA said the new rules will do nothing to improve highway safety.

“Today’s announcement of a new rule on the hours-of-service is completely unsurprising. What is surprising and new to us is that for the first time in the agency’s history, FMCSA has chosen to eschew a stream of positive safety data and cave in to a vocal anti-truck minority and issue a rule that will have no positive impact on safety,” ATA president and CEO Bill Graves said. “From the beginning of this process in October 2009, the agency set itself on a course to fix a rule that’s not only not broken, but by all objective accounts is working to improve highway safety. Unfortunately, along the way, FMCSA twisted data and, as part of this final rule, is using unjustified causal estimates to justify unnecessary changes.”

The ATA pointed out truck-involved fatalities have declined 29.9% since the current rules went into effect in 2004, even while miles travelled by trucks has increased dramatically.

“By forcing through these changes FMCSA has created a situation that will ultimately please no one, with the likely exception of organized labour,” said Dan England, ATA chair and chair of C.R. England. “Both the trucking industry and consumers will suffer the impact of reduced productivity and higher costs. Also, groups that have historically been critical of the current hours of service rules won’t be happy since they will have once again failed to obtain an unjustified reduction in allowable daily driving time. Further, it is entirely possible that these changes may actually increase truck-involved crashes by forcing trucks to have more interaction with passenger vehicles and increasing the risk to all drivers.”

The ATA also pointed out the rules will put more trucks on the road in peak traffic times as it requires drivers to rest from 1 to 5 a.m. twice per week.

“By mandating drivers include two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. as part of a ‘restart’ period, FMCSA is assuring that every day as America is commuting to work, thousands of truck drivers will be joining them, creating additional and unnecessary congestion and putting motorists and those professional drivers at greater risk,” Graves said. “The largest percentage of truck-involved crashes occur between 6 a.m. and noon, so this change not only effectively destroys the provision of the current rule most cited by professional drivers as beneficial, but it will put more trucks on the road during the statistically riskiest time of the day.”

Graves said the ATA will consider its legal options and noted it will be 18 months before the new rules take effect, giving it plenty of time to mount a challenge.

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9 Comments » for UPDATED: Industry slams new ‘final’ rule on US hours-of-service
  1. James a. Houston says:

    When well we quit letting lawyers try to force unfounded rules on a safe industry the safest in 30 years and yet they keep on . It’s time to deny them the right to bring unfounded lawsuits to change how we drive and leave it to fmcsa to regulate it . Our economy can take this crap and the industry will fold due to lack of drivers and equipment to get loads delivered

  2. Jim Malone says:

    So tell me what did they do to make things safer? NOTHING!! lets look at this new rule: (1) Must include two periods between 1 a.m.- 5 a.m. home terminal time.
    (2) May only be used once per week. So tell me who can count? If a 34 Hour restart must include 2 periods of 1-5am and can only be done once a week we cant afford to do it more than once a week because if you do the math it’s actually more than 34 hours…

    May drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver’s last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes. [HM 397.5 mandatory “in attendance” time may be included in break if no other duties performed]

    okay now they are controling our break times and when we should take them, How does people know when we need to take a break when all they do is sit in a building trying to change things that really dont need changed, They have way to much time on their hands, next they will decide when we need to stop to take a restroom break and of course that also needs to be at least 15 mins in duration and can only be done twice which at least 1 must be done before their 4th hour of driving.

    When will these people stop trying to control the truck driver? We are so over regulated and so under paid it’s not even funny, They want us off the road but they also want their feight delivered on time. Where are we going to park if everyone must be off the road at the same time, Rest areas are being closed and the truckstops are not big enough to handle all the truck traffic and some dont even have truck parking.. So tell me can I park in your drive way? Now with winter upon us when we are able to park we cant idle to stay warm so now what are we going to do? Freeze to death while your at home tucked away in your nice warm beds and you of all people wake up with an attitude towards us truckers!!! Heck at least your chances of waking up will be better since your nice and warm and us truckers whos out in the cold waiting to deliver your product are taking a chance of freezing to death. So tell me who had the right to have an attitude? We cant rest because of the cold we cant rest because we arent tired and when we are we cant lay down beause we have to drive, So tell me is our roads safer? NO they arent. You people making these rules need to live without heat in your homes and see how it feels to try and sleep when your cold. Shippers and receivers need to pay the driver for all time spent waiting to be loaded a or unloaded after the first hour and Im sure if our law makers passed a law to require them to pay us drivers I can also bet that we wont be sitting at a dock for 12 hours and then be exspected to drive another 10 hours to deliver on time. I could go on and on but I wont I touched on a couple key points so Law makers are you paying any attention? I guess we will find out huh!!!

  3. Jimmy o says:

    How many hours do we want to work? I think 70 is enough, If you cant’t make enough money working 70 hours a week then you have far more issues than getting a couple more hours to make ends meet. You might want to think about changing companies because there are companies out there that do pay. Now granted I don’t agree with these new rules because the ones making them don’t have a clue but first try to make them work for you so that means if you cant’t make the appointment time then oh well guess dispatch is going to do a better job. Remember rule of thumb is you try to do the least amount of work or hours for the most amount of money and the companies view is we will force are drivers to do what we want them to do when we tell them to do it even if it means breaking all rules Or else. Like holding pak back,or saying they don’t have any thing for your next run. Well all I have to say cyoa. Cover your own a–. Unemployment 99 weeks.

  4. Mister T says:

    It’s about time for drivers who’ve exceeded 1 million miles or more safe driving to get HOS recognition for their ongoing commitment to safety.

    I would give such drivers get flexibility to operate in a manner that suits them, not government. Since it takes 7+ years to achieve 1 million miles, this certainly indicates safety behind the wheel. Give these Professionals leeway to drive up to 12 hours one day, perhaps to reach a suitable safe haven, home, or their customer. Then have them reduce the following day by whatever they exceeded 11 hours by. For example, “Joe” drives 12 hours today to reach his customer, then tomorrow, he can only drive 10 hours. If they reach home, then a reset takes care of the extra hour, providing they do not exceed 70 hours within their cycle.

    It is patently unfair that someone with 6 months experience follows the same rules as someone with 26+ years safe driving experience. I believe that CSA 2010 could be modified to permit such flexibility, if not, then let’s make that happen!! It’s nice to get employer recognition, but is a gold watch, diamond ring, or other bauble that looks good, but doesn’t advance our work place life worth it?? I’d prefer being granted more HOS flexibility for achieving such lofty safety milestones.

    I have been a certified Manitoba Class 1 Instructor since 1997, although not currently working in that field. I have also conducted some advanced driving courses, such as the Smith System Five Keys to Space Cushion Driving. I now drive full time, with 800,000 consecutive safe driving miles at my current employer. With all this said, it’s my belief that we as professionals ought to be granted much better recognition for our efforts.

  5. Ross T says:

    If there ever was a time to consider a North America wide truckes strike…THIS IS IT…It’s time that the people that do the job to be allowed to have some control over how it’s done. I think that O I D A should think about getting behind this. If your a company driver, or a owner operator, it’s time to take this industry back.
    I for one, am sick to death of working for poor wages, and having my work place controlled by a group of people that at best, don’t wnderstand it, and at worst are out to desroy it for there own agenda, and gains.

  6. Jesse Smith says:

    Come on guys! Let’s give them what they want, every driver in America lets do the job EXACTLY the way the rules are written! We don’t have to strike! 30 days by the book, they’ll change the book! Think about it, log every hour on the dock “on duty not driving” whoops, sorry cant leave now out of hours!

  7. YeOldeDave says:

    Jimmy O, it isn’t just a mtter of how many hours you wanna work a week. I run quite a few OD loads & this time of year the short days only allow me to run 8-8 1/2 hrs a day, depending on the state I’m in. If I have to take an extra hour off in the day sometime, that leaves me only 7- 7 1/2 hours to work this time off year. Yeah, OD pays good but if I’m artificially restricted that much, how good is the rate gotta be to make it worthwhile?

    Another scenario, I leave home with a new 70, run a couple days, deliver, then sit for 2 days waiting for another load, I can’t use that 2 days for a reset due to having done one on the weekend already? That more then just wastes those 2 days.

    Say a driver works nights usually. He has to take his off time when he normally is up, 1-5 AM for 2 days, in order to have it count for his reset, thus totally screwing up his usual body sequences and contributing absolutely NOTHING to making roads “safer”…… to say contributing anything at all towards a “normal” family life.

    Much of the “new, improved” HOS is nothing more than pandering to the Claybrooks of this country and has zero, zip, nada to do with safety in any way. They’re not gonna fall for it, if they don’t get their entire agenda satisfied, (40 hr. week to start, 8 hr. day next) they’re headed for the courthouse as we speak…. as I hope OOIDA & ATA is doing also. Probably another couple years of same old, same old as far as HOS goes……….. I hope.

    Then…. retirement and y’all can have Uncah Sugar keeping an eye out for your “betterment”. Remember, they’re from the gubment and they’re here to HELP you!

  8. peter b says:

    Trucking industry politics has become a special interest cesspool. This push for more restrictive rules is being orchestrated by the insurance industry and their front groups. What’s especially hard to stomach is that they don’t have any hard evidence let alone proof that any of this will result in significant improvements in safety. In fact Anne Ferro has admitted that there is no proof that the current HOS rules have caused the decline in truck accidents that has occurred, which by the way, is a better rate than for 4 wheelers! They seem to be operating on the general guesstimate that when it comes to hours, less must be better. The FMCSA along with all the other federal agencies have become largely unelected Nazi like corrupt dictatorships. Talk about government overregulation and a nanny state! They show no concern whatsoever for the small business community and there is no business counter weight to their power. Also, Anne Ferro seems to be hell bent on the feminization of trucking which is probably why you see so many plastic “parts” hanging off of trucks now a days! Unbelievable, this cannot stand!

  9. Hammerdown says:

    Truck drivers organize?!? Ummmm…yah right. 90% of “truckers” are to stupid to tie their own shoelaces let alone organize an effective strike! Good luck REAL drivers. Your own your own on this one. Looks like the railroad corporations finally got the revenge they’ve always wanted!

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