Safety & Compliance

Safety Groups Oppose Changing HOS in THUD Bill

April 19, 2016

By David Cullen

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A broad coalition of interest groups, including highway-safety, law-enforcement and public-health advocates, is lobbying Congress “to oppose any special interest anti-truck safety riders including changes to the truck driver hours of service rules that would jeopardize the safety of truck drivers and the motoring public.” 

That’s per an April 18 letter sent by the chief executives of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters as well as the leaders of 13 other advocacy groups to the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which has begun crafting the Fiscal Year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations funding bill. 

The coalition of groups wants no HOS-related policy riders — especially regarding the 34-hour restart reforms – to be attached to this latest THUD bill.

Congress had suspended the 34-hour restart requirements pending submission of a study by the Department of Transportation on whether or not the more restrictive provisions provided “a greater net benefit for the operational, safety, health and fatigue impacts.”

The requirements were to be suspended until DOT submits its final report to the House and Senate appropriations committees. However, the bill that forced the restart rollback law is silent on what will happen when the study is done. Presumably, if it shows that one restart version provides a greater net benefit than the other, then the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will adopt that provision as part of the rule.

But suspending the more restrictive rules did not sit well with some.

“The last two appropriations bills included special-interest riders opposed by safety groups, law enforcement, truck drivers, truck crash victims and the Office of Management and Budget that suspended two important safety provisions in the HOS rule,” the coalition states in its letter. 

“This attack on truck driver HOS rules is just the latest in the insatiable attempts of certain trucking interests to advance their economic agenda regardless of the human cost to public safety.”

“These political maneuvers evade the regulatory process, disregard the congressional committee of jurisdiction and ignore federal agency and public input,” the writers continue. “This attack on truck driver HOS rules is just the latest in the insatiable attempts of certain trucking interests to advance their economic agenda regardless of the human cost to public safety.”

The coalition argues that the changes made to HOS rules in 2013 “required truck drivers with the most grueling schedules to take two consecutive nights off during the 34-hour restart and to use the 34-hour restart only once a week. These reforms were adopted because truck drivers were using the restart to work significantly more hours and truckers acknowledged that they were driving while fatigued.” 

While conceding that “the pre-2004 [HOS] rules were not perfect,” the coalition contends that “they did not promote greater driver fatigue to the same degree as the current rule, which suspends both the two consecutive nights of rest as well as the once-a-week use of the 34-hour restart.” 

Just last week, the same committee was admonished by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA),the influential Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, to not include any provision in the THUD bill that would prevent states from enacting their own meal and rest break rules for CDL drivers. 

Boxer went so far as to call such a measure “a poison pill,” which if included in the THUD bill, “would end any chance of the bill moving swiftly in the Senate.”

Related: Bill Language Could Put 34-Hour Restart at Risk

Comments

  1. 1. Thomas Marlowe [ April 20, 2016 @ 10:32AM ]

    The new, more restrictive rule, does NOT promote any more safety than the old one. All it does it make it harder to earn a living. *I* know when I'm tired, and I listen to my body. I don't need some pencil neck who's never driven a truck telling me what's good for me.

  2. 2. Michael Gully [ April 20, 2016 @ 10:42PM ]

    The objections by the anti Truck coalition group is on a biased witch hunt to harn trucking in any way it can succeed. The Teamsters today make up a very small portion of trucking. Furthermore the Teamster's position is not even supported by the rank and file without division. Law Enforcement, well it has become a brotherhood of Barney Fife's on a grudge carrying mission. I regret the injury to its officer. The fact is though that driver negligence occurred in violation of today's laws. What relavence does that have on a law change that is supported to improve driver safety. The very law they object to being changed In fact is a safety hazard. They are so biased their political agenda is actually preventing safety. The industry needs to finally stand up and not take this injust anti safe HOS law. The opimions as stated by the Illinois State Police poorly reflect on it being on a grudge mission instead of truly promoting safety. The current HOS consecutive 14 hour non split sleeper break is a hideous insult to highway safety. Any idiot can put rationale to that. Yet these very groups are so biased, full of hate, discontent of trucking that they are fine with inhibiting highway hazard rather than safety to fulfill their sick selfish narrow focussed agenda's

  3. 3. John Russo [ April 23, 2016 @ 07:41AM ]

    This is persicelly - after 23 years - I've removed myself from trucking due to pinheads like these groups.

  4. 4. Scott [ April 25, 2016 @ 06:16AM ]

    Why are special interest groups have any input into trucking regulations? How many years of truck driving experience do their members have? The answers to these questions are, no experience and they bribe lawmakers into making regulations that they know nothing about. This can be changed in 2 election cycles. Send a message in November by re-electing NO ONE. Their political party means nothing, THEY ARE ALL CORRUPT. WE DON'T NEED POLITICIANS, WE NEED REPRESENTATIVES. Special interest groups do not represent the opinions of anyone, except their members who have more money than brains or common sense.

 

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