Drivers

34-Hour Restart Faces Test

November 20, 2013

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The stage is set for a political grilling of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at a House hearing Thursday on the hours-of-service rule.

Amid relentless criticism of the 34-hour restart and 30-minute break provisions of the rule, agency administrator Anne Ferro will be called on to explain and defend the agency’s decision-making.

The hearing before the House Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce will be chaired by Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., an author of a bill that would suspend the restart provision pending an assessment by the Government Accountability Office.

Hanna has described the rule as “ideological” because it was implemented before FMCSA completed a field study of its effects.

The study was required by last year’s highway bill but it appears that Congress did not intend for the agency to complete the study before the rule took effect. The bill gave the agency until Sept. 30 to finish the study while the rule took effect July 1.

The agency missed that deadline. It has finished collecting data for the study but still is working on the analysis and review. The findings will have to be reviewed by the DOT Secretary’s office and the White House Office of Management and Budget, a process that could take into next year

Hanna’s criticism reflects the concern of trucking interests about how the provisions have affected their operations.

This week both the American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association released studies indicating that the provisions have led to carrier productivity losses, driver income losses and deterioration in driver quality of life.

The ATA study, prepared by its research arm, American Transportation Research Institute, is built on surveys that netted 2,370 driver responses and 446 carrier responses, mostly from the long-haul truckload sector.

“This report demonstrates clear evidence that the rules have generated a financial consequence on individual drivers as well as motor carriers, the majority of whom are small businesses,” the report concludes.

Included in the study is an analysis of logbook data from more than 49,000 drivers. In general, it shows an increase in the length of restart periods after the new rule took effect. This might be due to the requirement that drivers take two successive periods off between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. during their 34-hour break, ATRI said.

OOIDA said its study shows that the provisions have made it harder for drivers to drive when they are rested.

“The agency’s insistence on micromanaging a driver’s time is actually undermining highway safety,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president in a statement.

“Instead of providing the flexibility to drive when rested and stop when tired, the new rules have put drivers in the position of driving more hours than ever and in the worst traffic conditions, and spending less time at home. How is that safe?”

FMCSA has defended the restart provision on grounds that by creating more time for driver rest it will improve safety and save lives. It has said that the provision affects only the drivers who have the most severe schedules, and that most operations are not impacted.

The agency also says that the fatigue studies it conducted while drafting the rule justify the changes. ATA, on the other hand, has said that the laboratory studies were not convincing.

Comments

  1. 1. Jim Fixsal [ November 21, 2013 @ 03:49AM ]

    You people don't have a clue how could you all your driving is done behind a desk come spend a week in my truck you will see a whole different side I been out here 38 years longer than most of you are old so what give you the right to say when we can rest or not your a bunch of idiots I know I'm wasting my data sending this because no one will ever see it

  2. 2. Bonnie [ November 21, 2013 @ 05:18AM ]

    I saw it Jim and you are right. The new provisions have drivers starting their day at the worst traffic time among other issues. It would be great if law makers spent some time behind the wheel before they dictated what was best for truck drivers.

  3. 3. Nick justice [ November 21, 2013 @ 05:22AM ]

    I agree, our guys don't have "severe schedules" and they like the flexibility of the restart. Micromanagers with too much power.

  4. 4. Johnny Dark [ November 21, 2013 @ 05:26AM ]

    All these HOS gimmicks are just that , feel good gimmicks. This is a round the clock business , something most in DC cannot seem to comprehend. As smart as we all like to think we are , why do we continue to try to make one size fit all. Put a senseable system in place and you will eliminate more problems that you create. But everyone that's out where the rubber meets the road knows this is not about safety or a driver's quality of life. It is about a few organizations controlling this industry , private and government , and the revenue that can be manipulated and created thru this mess we now have. I am advocating a senseable system where you rest when tired, work effective and efficient , and go home.

  5. 5. Bill [ November 21, 2013 @ 05:43AM ]

    You guys are spot on. When I took my Logistics job a few years back I had no clue of all the everyday issues a driver faces and how ideas look great on paper but simply do not work in the real world. It took time in the truck before i understood. That week on the road opened my eyes to alot of things and inherently changed the way i dispatch my drivers. It does seem like it is money driven today.

  6. 6. Amish Trucker Blog [ November 21, 2013 @ 05:53AM ]

    When FMCSA says who the rule effects, it demonstrates their total lack of knowledge on the industry as a whole. It shows their stubborn desire to package trucking into nice little boxes with one size fits all regulation. It shows their experience, not as truck safety advocates, but as increased law enforcement advocates. Very few truck routes are Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 jobs. Even most regional drivers do not run the same routes day in and day out or have the same start times day after day. We are seeing regional drivers forced having to take 50 plus hours off when a restart is needed. Is this giving the driver more rest? Maybe. Is it dictating when he has to start work, whether it matches his previous schedule or not? Absolutely. A regional driver finds time to stretch his legs and eat his lunch. This may not be during a time in which he can legally put himself off duty as he is still responsible for what is going on in his trailer. Now he is forced to take extra time out of his day to log off duty. Now eating and stretching your legs while on duty is ok if you are hauling rocket propelled grenades or nuclear missles but not if you are hauling toilet paper? Does FMCSA know how many drivers now sleep in their trucks 30 minutes from home because they are forced to stop the truck 30 minutes within their day? Does FMCSA think you are better rested spending 10 hours in a truck instead of your own bed? If Congress cannot put a stop to this nonsense, it will demonstrate another failure by our government to do what is best for the people they serve.

  7. 7. BILL DOLLOFF [ November 21, 2013 @ 07:11AM ]

    I BELEIVE THERE ARE MANY FACTORS TO LOOK AT BUT THE ONE I FEEL IS WRONG IS THE PEOPLE TRYING TO WRITE THE RULES HAS NOT WALKED IN A TRUCK DRIVERS SHOES,, DIFFERENT PEOPLE HAVE DIFFERENT SLEEP REQUIREMENTS. THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO TAKE A NAP WHEN THEY WON'T TO OR TAKE A PARTIAL REST BRAKE IF THEY SO DESIRE. THE WAY IT IS NOW YOU CAN TAKE YOUR BREAK BY LAW AND THEN YOU ARE REQUIRED BY LAW TO DRIVE STILL SLEEPY OR NOT. THE RULES SHOULD GO BACK B4 JULY 2013 AND LEAVE THEM ALONE. THE MORE YOU INFRINGE THE MORE DRIVERS QUIT. I UNDERSTAND HOW TOUGH IT IS. BUT THE ONES WANTING THE CHANGES ARE NOT THE ONES DRIVING AND DELIVERING THE COUNTRIES PRODUCTS.

  8. 8. Jim Jordan [ November 21, 2013 @ 02:49PM ]

    I have never read comments so spot on with regard to any other issue. Driving a truck safely is a very complex proposition. The driver has responsibilities similar to those of an airline pilot, except that there are no air traffic controllers to help make decisions. So what does FMCSA do to help? It writes a rule that adds a new layer of complexity with no discernible safety or economic benefit. If this rule only cut into driving time, I suppose we might have to live with that. The problem is that it also pushes that driving time into congested (read unsafe) time periods. Given the chaff that it creates for a driver's decision making and its tendency to force trucks and four wheelers to mix more, the rule itself is a safety hazard. Time to regulate the regulators.

  9. 9. David H [ November 23, 2013 @ 08:25AM ]

    they need to do away with the 14 hour clock and give us back the sleep prevision .this rule as it is has made my drivers more tired then they where under the old rules

 

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