Reasoning for HOS Rule Changes a “Sham”, says Dan England

DALLAS, TX. — Dan England, chairman of the board, C.R. England, put it simply in his presentation to Commercial Vehicle Conference (CVOC) attendees. “The reason why these issues are so important to us, and why we need to act on them, is because they impact the costs of what we do.”

He was talking about the incoming and current onslaught of regulations.

The regulators don’t understand the costs and their impact, England said.

England, who is also chairman of American Trucking Associations (ATA), spoke about the hours-of-service rule, and ATA’s recent challenge to the proposed rule changes.

He pointed to current HOS rules in relation to statistics showing that the number of truck related fatalities, accidents, and injuries has decreased, and “is far better than other motorists.”

“And so with this kind of performance, you ask yourself ‘why is the government wanting to come forward to change the hours-of-service rules?’ It just seems to defy reason, and the reason that it does is politics; it’s all about politics.”

I think it’s very clear that the current administration is beholden to certain interest groups, he said, labour being one of them.

And the reasoning being used for these changes is a “sham,” he said.

“Historically, the agency has used a figure of 2.2 percent of accidents that are caused by fatigue, if they continue to use that same percentage that they used back in 2005, 2006, they wouldn’t be able to make their case. They are now using a fatigue percentage of thirteen.”

He said the FMCSA is using associated factors in their argument. “In the agency’s judgement, if a mildly fatigued truck driver is traveling on an unfamiliar road in bad weather, and a crash occurs after a passenger car swerves immediately in front of the truck, truck driver fatigue alone caused the crash.

“This is the kind of reasoning being used by the agency to justify these changes. Even using that sort of flawed reasoning, the benefits in terms of reduced accidents would not outweigh the costs of the additional burdens placed on us by having to run more trucks to do the same amount of work, hire more drivers for the same amount of work — the math didn’t work out for the agency. “

The agency went one step further, he said, and tried, in essence, to place a value on human life. “What they are trying to do is to decrease the mortality rate and then come up with a number that reflects that number in the mortality rate.

England explained that the agency said that if the 2011 rule goes forward, 95 percent of drivers would have no more than 7.8 minutes per day, and 85 percent of drivers would have 36 seconds more sleep per day. “Now, they say if we reduce the hours of work, it will automatically go to more sleep. And more sleep reduces mortality among the drivers. So they figured there would be a $170 million in savings if 10 percent of drivers slept 4.8 extra minutes per night. Another $20 million in savings if drivers got 14.4 additional seconds per night.”

“Does this make sense to you,” England asked a chuckling audience.

“This is the kind of reasoning we’re dealing with here, and this is why our lawyers are feeling pretty confident about fighting these hours of service rules.”

More from England’s talk later this week.

— JR

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