The American Trucking Association (ATA) has called on the FMCSA and the Congress to quickly address the growing problems caused by changes to the rules regarding hours-of-service.
The hours-of-service, or HOS, are regulations that were issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA), that governs the working hours of anyone who owns or operates a commercial motor vehicle in the United States. This includes truck drivers, bus drivers (including school bus drivers), who operate CMVs for motor carriers and their employers. These rules shorten the amount of daily and weekly hours that are spend driving and working, as well as to regulate the minimum amount of time that drivers must spend resting between their driving shifts.
The purpose of the HOS is to prevent drivers from getting involved in accidents due to driver fatigue. This is done by limiting the amount of driving hours each day, as well as the amount of driving and working hours per week. Fatigue can also be prevented by keeping these drivers on a 21-24 hour schedule, and maintaining a regular sleeping and waking cycle. All truck drivers are required to take a daily minimum period of rest. They are also allowed longer weekend rest periods to fight the effects of fatigue that happen on a weekly basis. Drivers that violate the HOS rule are forced to stop driving for a certain period of time. This can affect the motor carrier’s safety rating. HOS applies to any driver that has a vehicle which has a gross vehicle weight of around 10,001 pounds (4,536 kilos) or more, and can transport up to eight passengers, including the driver. This also applies to trucks that are used to transport hazardous materials in great amounts, which requires the vehicle to be marked under the regulation of hazardous materials.
The ATA was founded back in 1933. It is one of the largest national trade associations for the trucking industry. It has around 50 affiliated state trucking associations. The ATA’s mission statement and goals are to serve as well as represent the interests of the trucking industry with one voice. It also aims to influence in a positive manner both federal and state actions of the government. The ATA’s other endeavor is to advance the image, competitiveness, profitability, and efficiency of the trucking industry. Other goals include providing education and industry research, and to promote safety and security on the nation’s highways among truck drivers. The ATA also strives for a healthy business environment.
The grassroots program, and the Truck PAC, are both supported by the ATA. This grassroots program is the association’s network of trucking industry members that work to influence legislative decisions on both the federal and state level. The biggest impact on these legislators is to hear directly from its constituents. This grassroots program connects ATA members directly to their elected officials.
Truck PAC’s mission is to help elect federal candidates, regardless of their party affiliation. These candidates understand and support the trucking industry’s current issues. All of the contributions made to Truck PAC are directed towards funding the campaigns of these federal candidates.
Bill Graves, the CEO and president of ATA, called on congress to support the TRUE safety act, also known as HR3413. The bill was written by New York Representative Richard Hanna, South Carolina Representative Tom Rice, and Maine Representative Mike Michaud.
The authors of this bill say that they would like to see the 34-hour restart provision overturned, until an independent study can be done on the necessity of the provision. These representatives have also said that this new rule has brought much difficulty for drivers everywhere, who claim that trucking is the “lifeblood of the American economy”.
This bill has also stated that drivers should be allowed to operate under the 34-hour restart rule, which took place before the change on July 1 2013. The Government Accountability Office needs to conduct an independent assessment of the methodology of the FMCSA, which was used to come up with this restart rule. The bill would also prevent the FMCSA from applying a brand new restart rule if the results of this independent study contradict to the findings of the FMCSA.
The TRUE Safety Act was assigned to a congressional committee on October 2013.
Graves has said that the TRUE Safety Act will put a stop to the HOS rule and the 34-hour restart rule until they are thoroughly vetted. He is also confident that the FMCSA will undo what has done, once they are objectively and independently reviewed. Graves was pretty certain that from the outset, the ATA was sure that the changes to the hours-of-service rule were based on politics instead of data. It was also quite evident that these laws were also creating more problems for truck drivers, instead of solving issues.
Bulldog Hiway Express president and ATA Chairman Phil Byrd says that he has seen the impact that these rules have had on his fleet, and is sure that he is not alone. The American Transport Research Institute has published evidence of these costs, as well as the additional challenges that were caused by these rules. Byrd hopes that the congress would put these rules under the microscope by tomorrow. He also claims that everyone can see that these rules were a mistake, and that the FMCSA needs to listen to these facts and rollback this poorly advised rule.