This is the second of four articles regarding passage of the highway bill and its affects on truckers and shippers.
According to the highway bill signed by the President last Friday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is required to “conduct a field study on the effectiveness of the 34-hour restart provision in its hours-of-service rule.” 1
When the FMCSA presented its hours-of-service ruling last December, it chose to revise the 34-hour restart provision to include two consecutive breaks between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., with an effective date of 2013.
But trucking groups, such as the American Trucking Associations (ATA) as well shippers, including the shipping association NASSTRAC, have been fighting against the 34-hour restart provision, which they believe would do more harm than good.
The Effect on Truckers and Shippers
With two consecutive breaks between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., drivers are arguing that their work week would be drastically reduced from 82 to 70 hours. Less hours equals less miles and sequentially less pay for those trying to make a living.
Not only does this decrease hit the pockets of the drivers, but in return the trucking company, which now has to account for this loss of time. As one trucking company notes, “This restriction means that the company will need between 5% and 15% more hours to get the work done.” 2
In that case, it should come as no surprise that this decrease in work hours would lead to productivity problems, limiting a driver’s time on the road, which could cause delivery complications. These complications spell trouble for shippers who will be facing increased rates to get these shipments picked up and delivered on time due to driver shortages, which then trickles down higher costs to consumers.
Shippers/receivers will also face changes in scheduling, with the need of advanced notice. As one driver explains, “The changes are going to have to be made at the plants that I haul into. They are going to have to come up with an earlier schedule and stick to it some way so that we have more then a 12-hour notice of where we are loading. That way if I have to plan a camping trip in the truck then I can do so. That way I can pack a few things so that when I get off loaded then I can start heading for the next load spot and take my 10 when the clock runs out. But then they are going to have to start raising the rates because I refuse to camp in my truck for a 100-150 dollar load.” 3
Aside from higher rates and productivity problems, the ATA and others are arguing over the increased congestion and safety risks that would result. The ATA states that “by mandating drivers to 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.” 2
In addition, the ATA goes on to state that “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.” 2
In order to ease concerns, the bill would require that the FMCSA do a field study that is to be completed by March 31, 2013, which either supports the rule and puts it into effect or would lead to a modification of the ruling if not supported. 4
Have questions about the FMCSA’s 34-hour restart provision? Then check out the FMCSA’s questions and answers section regarding the ruling at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/hos/HOS_Rule_QAs.pdf.
Do you believe that the FMCSA made the right choice in revising the 34-hour restart provision in its hours-of-service rule to include two consecutive breaks between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.? What do you consider to be the biggest circumstances of this revision? List your comments below.
Stay tuned for an upcoming article on the effects of the creation of a federal alcohol and drug clearing house.
Tags: 34-hour restart provision, ATA, carriers, federal motor carrier safety administration, FMCSA, highway bill, hours of service, NASSTRAC, road scholar transport, shippers, trucking industry, trucking news