The current hours of service regulations work just fine for less-than-truckload carriers, and do not need to be changed, says Tim Lynch, president and CEO of the Motor Freight Carriers Assn. In fact, changing the rules could be damaging to the economy, he says.
“We will push to retain the rules,” Lynch said in remarks at a press luncheon in Washington, D.C. His organization represents the six biggest unionized LTL carriers in the country, including Roadway Express and Consolidated Freightways.
The Department of Transportation is supposed to publish proposed changes in the 65-year-old rules this year.
Lynch views the pending rule change as an issue of national economic significance. The rules define how trucks operate, and since trucks move 80% of the nation’s freight, a reduction in trucking productivity triggered by a change in the rules could be damaging to the economy.
Lynch said he intends to raise the issue with Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue, as well as with shipper organizations such as the National Industrial Transportation League and the National Small Shipments Traffic Conference.
There are days when LTL companies need 15 hours of on-duty time in order to deliver the freight and get drivers home, he explained. They are able to work safely with that rule: MFCA member companies have a driver out-of-service rate of .84% -- almost 90% better than the industry rate.
Lynch acknowledged that the 15-hour requirement puts MFCA at odds with the American Trucking Associations, which is proposing a 14-hour on-duty rule.
That out-of-service performance also gives Lynch reason to reject the use of onboard recorders to track driver hours. Recorders would do nothing to improve MFCA drivers’ compliance, he points out. Neither would they save any money by cutting back on paperwork, he said.
He also gave notice that MFCA will oppose changes in driver pay methods. DOT is laying the groundwork for a study of the impact of mileage pay on truck safety – some say it pressures drivers to exceed their limits. But from Lynch’s perspective, the change is not needed.
Teamster drivers are the safest in the industry, and they are paid by the mile, he said.