OOIDA: Respect for drivers’ time needs to be addressed

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers’ Association (OOIDA) addressed a Senate subcommittee hearing yesterday on Hours-of-Service, emphasizing that a renewed emphasis must be placed on respecting drivers’ time if fatigue reduction is ever to be achieved.

The owner/operator group supported the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration’s interim final rule on hours-of-service, which retains the 11-hour driving day and 34-hour restart provisions. However, the group went on to say that a the current lack of regard for drivers’ time must still be addressed.

Under the current rules, OOIDA contends drivers must sacrifice work and pay to pull off the road to rest during the work day.

“If all stakeholders were fully vested in the rules and all drivers were able to fully comply with the regulations without fear of some type reprisal, there would be a sea change in the industry,” said OOIDA member Walter Krupski who testified at the hearing. “If drivers were compensated for all of the work they do, drivers’ time would become valuable and shippers would be forced to streamline their operations to minimize loading and unloading time. A new approach is needed if Congress and the agency truly wish to make significant improvements in driver fatigue.”

OOIDA says shippers and receivers still routinely make drivers wait from two hours right up to two days before allowing them to load or unload their trucks. Some even require drivers to help out with warehouse work, which counts as on-duty time under the HoS rules.

“Motor carriers have historically been unwilling to remedy the problems associated with loading and unloading abuses, and drivers are powerless to resolve them,” pointed out Krupski.

OOIDA said drivers should be compensated for driving and non-driving on-duty time, in which case logbooks would not have to be fudged to make up for unpaid time.

“Unless these economic issues are addressed, drivers who become disqualified from driving for violating the hours-of-service rules will simply be replaced by a new driver facing the same economic pressures,” added Krupski.

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