Fleet Management

Little Common Ground at Restart Hearing

November 21, 2013

By Oliver Patton

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The subject at Thursday’s House hearing was truck driver hours-of-service regulations, but the target was federal regulation of business.

Anne Ferro, chief of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, testified that the 34-hour restart provision of the rule will save an estimated 19 lives a year.

Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C., said that in percentage terms this number is so small that there is no way to know if the rule has any safety impact at all.

“We don’t know if this will save any lives, but we do know that it will have a tremendous economic effect on the industry,” Rice said.

Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce, which held the hearing, said it is clear to him that the rule represents an ideology rather than a solution.

He later explained that, in his view, accidents are inevitable and there is no point in trying to drive the truck-related fatality rate down to zero.

“If the goal is to reduce all deaths to zero, then we would close all our highways and park all our trucks,” he said.

“(Zero deaths is) an unrealistic, impractical goal that burdens the industry and is philosophically based, not reality based.

He added, “As Mr. Rice said, statistically there is no evidence that this rule helps. And there is considerable evidence that by pushing people into morning rush hour that it may actually do the opposite.”

A lot of the industry’s negative reaction to the restart is more about a regulatory process that demonstrates arrogance on the part of the agency, he said.

The rule inflicts pain on truck drivers, he said. “Why is the agency so numb to the industry, which is committed to safety?”

Ferro strongly denied that the agency is arrogant and numb.

The 19 lives are an estimate but each life is precious, she said.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., said he appreciated the reference to life being precious since “that’s not the official line of the administration,” and then moved on to question Ferro about the field study of the restart rule that was mandated by last year’s highway bill.

Echoing a concern expressed by the trucking community, he asked if the agency should have completed the study before the rule took effect.

Ferro explained that when Congress ordered the study it did not connect the completion of the study to the effective date of the rule. The rule went into effect July 1, and the study was due Sept. 30.

The agency missed that deadline but Ferro said the study is being reviewed and she hopes it will be ready in the first quarter of next year.

She added that the restart, which requires two successive periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., is based on laboratory studies that show drivers perform better if they get their restorative sleep at night.

Rep. Hanna asked Ferro if she is open to rolling back the rule.

“Absolutely not,” Ferro said, adding that discussions about changes and improvements should continue.

Ferro challenged a study released earlier this week by the American Transportation Research Institute, the research arm of American Trucking Associations.

The study has provided much of the ammunition in the trucking industry’s fight against the rule. It uses a survey to show that carriers and drivers are losing productivity and pay as a result of the rule.

Ferro said that a logbook analysis in the survey shows that the rule has had practically no impact on driver’s schedules.

Less than one-third of 1% of the logbooks showed a difference in times before and after the rule took effect, she said.

A trucking witness, Duane Long, chairman of Longistics, told the panel that the restart rule makes it more difficult for some of his driver teams to meet Monday morning delivery requirements.

His teams are experienced and know how to manage their routines to get the work done and get enough rest, he said.

“They resent the intrusion of the government on their daily work routine, they resent the new restart restrictions, and the effect they are having on their ability to make a living,” he said.

Long, who was testifying on behalf of American Trucking Associations, said Congress should suspend the restart provision until the field study is done and the Government Accountability Office has reviewed the data.

Hanna and others have introduced legislation in the House that would do just that.

Hanna said Thursday that he is close to signing up a champion on the Senate side, but close followers of the issue on the Hill say the bill has little chance of passage.

Paul Jovanis, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Pennsylvania State University, outlined the scientific research that has been done on hours of service and driver fatigue.

The research shows that crash risk increases as driving time increases and that the 10-hour off-duty requirement lowers crash risk.

Trucking interests object to the 30-minute rest break requirement in the hours of service rule, but Jovanis said the benefits of such breaks are overwhelmingly clear. A study he did found that two breaks, as is required in the European Union, reduced the risk of a crash by 30%.

And he referenced the two laboratory studies that Ferro cited as evidence of the need for the new restart rule.

The main finding of the first study was that the subjects who worked daytimes and got their rest at night showed no decline in performance after their 34-hour restart, while those who worked at night and got their rest during the day did show a decline.

The second study looked at night drivers who got a 58-hour restart, which resulted in no performance degradation, he said.

Tilden Curl, an independent who represented the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said that the restart rule actually causes more fatigue than it prevents.

Drivers try to maximize their miles and hours because they only get one restart in a seven-day period, he said.

In his own personal experience, he said, the effect of the rule is to put him on the streets of his home city, Seattle, during morning rush hour, a situation he could avoid before the rule changed.

He’d like to see the agency put more flexibility back into the rule by allowing drivers to pause their duty clocks while on break. And OOIDA strongly supports a rule to set standards for entry-level driver training, he said.

In one area, at least, OOIDA and Anne Ferro are in agreement: both think Congress should take on the issue of driver detention.

“Because of the industry’s pay-by-mile system, the vast majority of truckers are not compensated for any of the time spent not driving or for any non-driving activities,” he said.

The solution is more flexibility so drivers can manage their daily and weekly schedules, he said.

In this he echoed Ferro, who told the panel that driver pay and loading dock delays significantly impact drivers’ ability to be safe and productive.

“In short, uncompensated delays force drivers to press legal and physical limits to capture a day’s pay,” she said.

“The logistics industry gets this time free on the backs of the drivers, hurting. Uncompensated detention time needs your attention, because what makes the job better, often makes the job safer.”

Comments

  1. 1. JTG [ November 22, 2013 @ 04:00AM ]

    "No impact on drivers schedules." Really? Of course there is impact on a driver's schedule. Some driver's could have worked a 6th day but the 0100-0500 regulation does not allow it. Granted, some are not affected but many are. especially those companies that have 6 and 7-day operations. More overreach by the government and she sounds so much like Obama (no flexibility and can't meet deadlines while citing Europena standards).

  2. 2. redneck [ November 22, 2013 @ 04:06AM ]

    Once again the government knows best but yet fail to realize what they are actually doing to the industry. I also wonder why ATA and Oieda didnt stand up and say thats fine then we are going to conduct safe protests and put commercials out on tv that the price of goods are going to take a huge jump in price because the government wants to dictate how our business is run. Well here we go public you voted them in here is what you got for your money dont blame us for your choices in government officials. Not sure when or if any trucking companies can actually get together and stand up for our rights you guys are just as greedy as the government wake up and help the industry and raise the rates to help the drivers and everyone else involed with trucking.

  3. 3. Robert Matney [ November 22, 2013 @ 04:15AM ]

    Why are we wanting to be like the Europeansand we thought we were supposed to be where are on people why are we trying to run the people and stop people from doing their jobsthe 34 hour restart was fine before 30 minute break is unnecessary the one to five put everybody in the backup traffic which causes a lot more problems waste time and less product being delivered on time with you get more companies all upset about what's going on the studies should be done first and reviewsshe doesn't know what she's really talking about unless she has driven a truck before which I highly doubt we need to get the test results done first take it to the field let the drivers make their own decisions like we use toand stop trying to be like other people

  4. 4. Johnny Dark [ November 22, 2013 @ 04:59AM ]

    You'll have it all wrong. Queen Anne has your back bro. Quit working on them ole junk trucks. Go out today, don't hesitate, and by on off them new trucks and one of those new 55 thousand dollar fancy dry vans with all the Greenest Greenway features. Make sure you get the truck that has the diesel fuel recovery tank , factory installed. You know the feature all the dealers have been telling you about, cause these trucks actually make fuel going down the road. Now that Her highness is going to fix freight rates and require all business to have a log to aid on the detention disbursements. Start at 5 am , not one minute sooner, head out and deliver what you can. Park the son of a bitch when it gets dark and customers that didn't get to see you today will be even happier to see you tommorrow. That's how it's done. PLEASE Someone with common sense and money save us from these clowns.

  5. 5. SJR [ November 22, 2013 @ 05:22AM ]

    How can Ms Ferro or anyone for that matter be statistically correct until all of us are on the same page. In order to get the statistics correct we have to have everyone following the same rules. We must have the elog mandate. Until we get that the statistics will continue to be a guess.
    The half hour break is assinine. All this does is aggravate every driver. The change in the restart rules further aggravates the drivers and we are seeing no advantage to safety. In fact we see both of these contro type changes as a deterint to safe driving.
    Ms Ferro what happened to you? When I first became aware of you I was so impressed by your passion and knowledge of the trucking industry. I recal thinking boy this woman knows thus industry and genuinely cares about making it better. I thought finally we have a champion in Washington that will rescue our drivers from suppressive and ruthless greedy owners and help clean this industry up. You were doing such a great job but then for some reason you stopped listening. Why?
    You had the hours of service change just about as perfect as it could be and you changed it. All you really had to do was get the mandate for elogs done and complete and your legacy would have been a five star one for eternity.
    Too bad you decided to become a control freak !

  6. 6. Ken Taylor [ November 22, 2013 @ 06:27AM ]

    I am an operations manager and I am ok with the 2 periods of 1-5am and even the 30 minute breaks. I have found that my drivers are able to plan their routings and productivity accordingly. HOWEVER, the 168 hour rule has NO affect on driver safety and does nothing but cause my drivers to continue to roll there hours which in my experience in WAY more unsafe than getting their 34 hr restart and running with a fresh 70.
    If a driver gets 34 consecutive hours of off duty rest it should not matter weather they have ran 2 days or 7 days. A prime example is a mechanical breakdowns on the road. If they are down for at least 34 hours and 2 periods of 1-5am, they should be able to start with a fresh 70.
    WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!

  7. 7. Paul L [ November 22, 2013 @ 07:10AM ]

    Please contact your State Senator and let them know how you feel these rules do nothing significant to improve safety yet they hamper the industry and frustrate more drivers that are already considering leaving the profession. Urge them to support the bill that roles back the July 1 mandate to the changes in the 34-hour restart. It is very easy to google your State Senators and complete on online submission form on their home page.

  8. 8. Truckmike [ November 22, 2013 @ 04:12PM ]

    1) Ann Ferro said between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., is based on laboratory studies that show drivers perform better if they get their restorative sleep at night. Then how well does the driver that drives at night going to rest only 2 of 7 nights between 1 & 5?? Lab is one thing, real world is another.
    2) only one 34 hour restart in 168 hours. if you get more than one, the driver is going to be better rested. Drivers now are run ragged simply trying to comply with all the unnecessary changes.
    3) 30 minute break. this is good change, however should be based off of driving time only as it was originally proposed. why make it more confusing with the gain of nothing.

  9. 9. Lee Lenard [ November 23, 2013 @ 09:27PM ]

    "Truckmike" and "SJR" you are on target with this! For me this has been the most frustrating stupid change/mandate that has come out of FMCSA. I know that for about 60 - 70% of drivers they are barely affected but those that work a 7 day system with shift or route times starting at 10AM and if they work a 14 hour day this is a killer. Those who are unfortunate enough to be on EOBC have to spend more time managing times, breaks, trying to get off computer etc. than they do driving, performing and job and operating safely. The 30 min break sitting beside interstate, setting on off ramp, parked in a dangerous place all poses more danger to public and to the driver than anything we have faced in decades. It forces the driver to run red lights, pull out in traffic when he should not, drive faster than posted speed and take chances that before July 1, 2013 were not necessary. YES, I have seen truck involved accidents go up since July 1st. At least 3 times as many! May not be fatalities, but injury to both driver and public as I have seen them carried away. Give us a 30 min break to take in intervals, 10 or 15 min at a time when and where needed...not beside the road by force! The 1-5 thing and 168 hour rule does nothing but penalize drivers pay and ability to work competitively. I know, just lost $15,000 year and may end up being $20,000 all because of the 1-5 and 168 hour.

  10. 10. Peter D. Ohmart [ November 26, 2013 @ 06:28AM ]

    I am in total agreement with detention time.

    We hauled tankers and the companies we delivered to are given 1 hour and we charge detention. It behooves that company that is being delivered to to clear the passage for delivery. They know they will be charged two hundred of dollars per hour if they do not.

    If warehouses did the same thing, good things would come from that:
    Drivers would be in and out quicker
    It puts the responsibility on the receiving company to hire steady help or lumpers (employment of more people).
    The receiving company can do with the stock as they want sooner
    The driver is now not trying to make up miles illegally so he can make a paycheck
    Even brokers can move freight more efficiently because drivers are empty sooner
    and the list goes on

    This I feel is the ROOT CAUSE of most of the industry failings and so many problems with the HOURS OF SERVICE.

    Keep in mind though, society allows this, because we have allowed passing the buck to go on, and we do not make people accountable when they do something wrong.

    EX: A cop sees a pretty girl and he only gives her a warning for speeding at 90 mph in a 70 mile per hour zone.

    Fix the detention time, and most of the other problems will disappear, I feel.

 

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