ATA says current HOS rules should stay

ARLINGTON, Va. — Pointing to record-low rates for truck-related crashes and fatalities, the American Trucking Associations says the existing hours of service rules are working.

The ATA defended the rules after it was announced yesterday that the Department of Transportation has struck a deal with Public Citizen and the Teamsters to reconsider the rules. (The groups challenged the rules in court for the third time this past March). 

There’s no telling what means for the rules as they’re written, but the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration under the Obama regime is reportedly open to rewriting aspects of the rule, perhaps from scratch.

But, citing recent highway safety statistics, the ATA says they’re fine the way they are.

"Safety in the trucking industry has greatly improved while operating under the current hours-of-service rules," said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. "Over the past five years we’ve seen a strong decline in truck-involved crashes on our nation’s highways."

Figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation demonstrate that the trucking industry is now the safest it has been since the DOT began keeping crash statistics in 1975. The number of truck-involved fatalities on our highways has decreased by 19 percent since the new HOS rules took effect. The number of injuries has decreased by 13 percent since 2004.

Meanwhile, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which has been known to side with Public Citizen and the Teamsters on certain industry issues, says it welcomes the opportunity to improve the rules, provided that the "changes are meaningful."

"There are things that could be improved upon in the current hours-of-service regulations that we’d like changed, but opening up the issue completely also runs the risk of seeing revisions made that do not affect safety even though they are more restrictive," said Jim Johnston, OOIDA president.

"This means an opportunity to bring up other hours-of-service issues that affect safety," added Johnston, such as loading and unloading times, resurrecting split sleeper berth for team operations, and the current inability to interrupt the 14-hour day for needed rest periods."

Since, the 11-hour driving time and the 34-hour provisions of the Bush administration’s fine rule were constantly challenged by interest groups, it’s conceivable that FMCSA could focus on revising those aspects, specifically. 

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