On February 14th, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) stated that they had no choice but to file suit against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)’s final hours-of-service ruling.
The rule, published in the Federal Register last December, upheld the current 11-hour daily driving limit, but did accompany some changes.
According to the FMCSA’s website:
*A driver “may drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver’s last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes,” effective July 1, 2013. 1
*On-duty time “does not include any time resting in a parked CMV. In moving CMV, does not include up to 2 hours in passenger seat immediately before or after 8 consecutive hours in sleeper-berth. Also applies to passenger-carrying drivers,” effective Feb. 27, 2012. 1
*“Waiting time for certain drivers at oilfields must be shown on logbook or electronic equivalent as off duty and identified by annotations in ‘remarks’ or a separate added to ‘grid,’” effective Feb. 27, 2012. 1
But perhaps the biggest change that have drivers will endure come July 1st, 2013 is the 34-hour restart provision which “must include two periods between 1 a.m.-5 a.m. home terminal time.” 1 This decision is said to reduce a driver’s work week from 82 to 70 hours, which would lead to productivity problems since a reduction would limit a driver’s time on the road, which could cause delivery complications and increased rates for shippers (which then trickle down to higher costs for consumers).
As of this month (Feb. 27th), drivers who exceed their hours by 3 or more will face maximum penalties.
The ruling resulted from two lawsuits filed by groups including the Public Citizen and Teamsters union fighting towards constricting drivers’ hours, prompting the FMCSA to revise their initial rule if Public Citizen suspended their lawsuit.
At the same time, Public Citizen acknowledged that they would renew their suit if they opposed the final ruling.
And they were not the only ones threatening a lawsuit if they did not agree with the FMCSA’s decision.
The ATA, who pushed for the FMCSA to uphold the current HOS rule, which has been in effect for seven years now, based on its proven effectiveness and cost issues, also emphasized that if the FMCSA changed the current rule, they would take action.
And they did. Earlier this week, the ATA filed suit with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the FMCSA’s ruling, saying that “FMCSCA and the Obama administration have put the ATA and its member companies in a position to take this legal action.” 2
According to ATA President Bill Graves, the FMCSA’s decision was based on “changed assumptions and analyses that do not meet the required legal standards.” 2
Graves is referring to an earlier argument that the ATA presented claiming that the FMCSA manipulated crash statistics in order to justify a reduction in a driver’s hours of service to reduce fatigue related accidents, nearly doubling the statistics from the 7 percent figure that the FMCSA had always claimed to be accurate.
The ATA has been arguing that the current HOS rule has already proven effective in improving crash prevention, stating truck-related crash reduction statistics. Safety groups, however, rebutted this statement, explaining that there is no data that directly correlates crash reduction statistics to the current HOS rule, nor any one particular factor for that matter. But the ATA continues to hold true to their belief.
Joining the ATA’s opposition towards the FMCSA’s final HOS ruling are other groups who believe the rule would lead to productivity problems, rising costs to conduct business, increased crash risks, late deliveries, and pollution.
In fact, a December poll conducted shortly after the rule’s passing showed 93% of voters being opposed to the decision.
As one driver noted in a discussion regarding the rule that drivers “may drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver’s last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes,” “This mandatory 30 min. break is crap and robs us of 30 minutes of work time, which could mean it robs us of 30+ miles of road depending on the work that was done during the day. I know that it will greatly affect the work that I do, especially on our slightly longer runs. Either the boss is going to have to hire more drivers due to the loss of available on duty time or both the plants we haul into are going to have to slow down production and cut loads and they will not be able to pull product from the farther reaches of the state.” 3
And many people have similar expectations, believing that more drivers will need to be hired to account for the 82 to 70 hours cut, not to mention raise their rates.
But drivers will not be the only ones who will be affected. With the 34-hour restart provision, shippers/receivers will be making some changes as well. 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
And it doesn’t stop there. Everyday commuters will be experiencing a difference as well.
Have you ever went on vacation and left early in the morning to avoid the traffic or to arrive at your destination at an earlier time? If so, you may find that an 8-hour trip now turned into 11 hours or more due to congestion.
“Do they realize how many thousands of drivers will be sitting waiting for 5 a.m. to hit the road just in time to blend with rush hour traffic by the time pretrips, hooking loads, etc. is done? one commenter asks. 3
And with the ATA filing suit, other safety advocate groups may be soon to follow with the Teamsters already indicating that they would renew theirs. 2
How do you feel the FMCSA’s hours-of-service rule will affect drivers? Shippers/receivers? Commuters? Do you agree with the final rule or feel that it needs to be overturned? What would you like to see changed? List your comments below.