Truckers are up in arms over proposed changes to the hours of service rules, but the chief federal safety officer believes the proposal is on target.
“I think we did a very good job,” said Julie Anna Cirillo, acting chief safety officer of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
At the same time, she said Friday in remarks to transportation reporters, the agency will make changes. “I am committed to making sure that we evaluate every comment that we get.”
She acknowledged that the safety agency needs to address specific issues in the proposal, such as the number of hours in the daily work schedule and the weekend restart provision, as well as exemptions that are being requested by industry segments.
The aim, she said, is to give drivers the regulatory tools they need to exercise professional judgment. “The only person who knows he is tired is the driver.”
It is difficult to do that, she added, outside the sphere of organized labor’s work rules.
She also said the hearing process has taught her that the industry is more diverse than she expected. She was not aware, for example, of the scope of operations in the driveaway sector, and how the proposal might affect that business.
To make changes, Cirillo said, the safety agency needs alternatives to what it has proposed, and facts and figures to back up the alternatives.
“We can’t come to a different conclusion without additional information.”
Numerous industry groups still are preparing detailed responses to the proposal, including real-world examples of how the rules would affect their operations. Cirillo acknowledged that the 90-day extension for comments granted by Transportation Secretary Slater gives the agency more flexibility.
She was critical of efforts to get Congress to squelch the proposal. A push for language in the DOT appropriations bill that would kill the proposal for a year is counterproductive, she said. That effort is being pushed by American Trucking Associations (See
“The regulatory process has started,” Cirillo said. “To close it down before it has had a chance to run its course is counterproductive.
“Virtually everyone says we need changes. If that is true, we have taken the first step.”