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Advocates Poll Rekindles Restart Fight

October 17, 2014

By Oliver Patton

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One trucking group says the way to end the controversy is to go ahead and end the use of paper logbooks. Photo: Jim Park
One trucking group says the way to end the controversy is to go ahead and end the use of paper logbooks. Photo: Jim Park

The fight over the 34-hour restart broke out again Thursday. A safety advocacy group released research indicating that the public does not want truck drivers to work longer hours, and trucking groups jumped in.

One argued that the research has no merit. The other's contention was that the real solution to the problem is to expedite the pending electronic logging mandate.

At issue is the effort by American Trucking Associations to get Congress to suspend the 34-hour restart provision of the hours of service rules.

The provision requires drivers to take off two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. during their restart. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says this will improve safety because nighttime sleep is more restorative than daytime sleep.

ATA opposes this restriction, arguing that it can reduce carrier productivity and may increase risk by putting more trucks on the road during Monday morning rush hour. ATA is pushing legislation that would suspend the provision pending more research into its impact.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, which opposes suspension of the restart, hired a polling company to gauge public reaction. The polling company framed its question two ways.

Half of the respondents were told about the truck crash that severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed one of his companions, then asked if Congress should raise the weekly work limit for truck drivers from 70 to 82 hours.

The other half got the same question without the reference to the Tracy Morgan crash.

Eighty percent of the group said they oppose increasing the limit, and 60% said they strongly oppose it. Seventeen percent said they think it’s a good idea to raise the limit.

“This survey reveals a clear disconnect between what the public wants and what special trucking interests want from Congress,” said Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates, in a statement. “We urge Congress to reject this anti-safety change and heed the public’s assessment of its dangers.”

ATA jumped in, urging Congress to ignore the poll.

“The results of a misleading push poll should not be taken into consideration when crafting public policy,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves in a statement.

Referencing Advocates' assertion that the restart suspension would increase the weekly limit from 70 to 82 hours, he said, “FMCSA has previously said that the alleged working hours envisioned by these industry critics are only possible in an ‘imaginary world.’”

He also referenced ATA’s own recent poll, which asked if respondents would prefer trucks to be on the road between midnight and 5 a.m. or in the morning. By a margin similar to that in the Advocates’ poll, respondents said they would rather not see trucks in the morning.

The third voice in this dust-up is that of The Trucking Alliance, which represents a half-dozen truck lines that have their own safety agenda on Capitol Hill.

Lane Kidd, managing director of the group, took the occasion of the Advocates poll to urge FMCSA to speed up work on the electronic logging mandate.

“The stark reality is that without a way to verify industry compliance, it doesn’t matter what the federal government’s hours of service rules are for truck drivers,” Kidd said in a statement. “Nobody really knows who is and who is not following these federal hours of service rules, because paper logbooks easily allow truck drivers to exceed their maximum number of hours."

FMCSA has proposed a rule that would require practically all carriers to use electronic logs. The agency is reviewing comments on the proposal and is expected to issue a final rule next year. The Alliance wants the rule done sooner rather than later.

“[The] technology will assure compliance with current rules and also provide objective data to determine how many hours of driving time for truck drivers should be allowed,” Kidd said.

The next stage in this fight will come after the November 4 election, when Congress will have to vote on appropriations legislation to fund the government through next September.

ATA is eyeing the chance to get its restart suspension attached to that appropriations bill.

Comments

  1. 1. Gary Hull [ October 17, 2014 @ 08:15PM ]

    This is an amazing argument. Especially when you look at all the circumstances of that crash. As a driver, I would almost put money on the idea, that the current restriction on CMV drivers and the fact that the Walmart truck had an ELD in it was a contributing factor to that accident. If the current rules would have allowed that driver to get a few hr nap and still complete his 14 hr day, He would have done so. It is not ideal but it works.

    Think about it CMV drivers in order to maximize their income must drive when the ELD says to drive, Then they must also drive to the very edge of the available window, There is no room in the ELD for the personal needs of the driver.

  2. 2. steve [ October 20, 2014 @ 04:48AM ]

    I can't stay awake for nothing between 10p and 2a, but my ELD says drive baby drive !!

  3. 3. BarbRRB [ October 20, 2014 @ 06:50AM ]

    I am just safet sick......
    1) The Walmart driver and the 34 hour restart has nothing in common. His ELD said he was legal. It is what the driver does before and after their on duty.
    2) Drivers sleep and 8 hours are wonderful. 2 hours to eat and have a nice break is also nice, In a perfect world. We do not have a perfect world. We do not go home and sit with our family at dinner, enjoy playing with our children, we call them and look at pictures every day. What is really sad, run out of hours 3/4 hour from home because your stuck in traffic for over an hour because of an accident along with rush hour traffic.
    3) And for you Lane Kidd............. What are you going to do when ELD's are law and accidents are the same if not more? We are human and when I need sleep, I sleep. I do NOT need electronics telling me I can drive another 4 hours and dispatch freaking out as I shut down.
    3) I have downloaded and read ATRI's 34-hour restart provision. Not surprised with the outcome FMCSA was wrong and It's appauling that Ferro was so sure of herself and the #'s she used -vs.- the study. I have always said, depends on the #'s that you use for the results that are given.
    It's not over and more driver will retire because of the BS. There will be greenhorns filling the seats, but we were all greenhorns once in our lives.

  4. 4. Badger Underwood [ October 20, 2014 @ 09:39AM ]

    The orginal 34 hour was fine the way it was written. No need for the two 1AM to 5AM. All that was needed was another line. In no event can you have more that 70 hours in 8 days with or without a 34 hour restart.

  5. 5. Big Yellower [ October 20, 2014 @ 10:56AM ]

    FYI : us Class A drivers are only allowed to work 70 hrs in 8 days then 34 hrs off for reset. For me I start my week either on Sunday or Monday end on Friday or Saturday.. My 34 resets are pretty much on the weekend. Also I run 2500-3500 miles a week solo. And my rig does the speed limit posted in rural states(75). My mpg varies from 6-9. Depends on the load type and weight.

  6. 6. Toad [ October 20, 2014 @ 02:51PM ]

    To me and our drivers it is the 168 hour rule that took the money from our drivers. We did not have a problem with the 34 hour rule until they added the two 1am-5am and the 168 hour BS.

  7. 7. Lee Lenard [ October 21, 2014 @ 05:30PM ]

    Gary Hull, Toad ....Yes you both have it right. Very perceptive and accurate. If we could only get the understanding by FMCSA that you have. Electronic logs is and will be more so when totally required.."is the most dangerous requirement ever placed in a truck". I am convinced the Walmart accident was totally about the driver trying to beat the ELD! Those of us that drive under that system take more risk, drive faster than we should, take every shortcut possible just to beat the ELD. DANGEROUS! Yes, but for the non-union drivers earning a living, we have to take the risk. Without the ELD we could stop, take short breaks (naps), go to the bathroom and get a cup of coffee....those pleasures so often forced to skip with the ELD just to make domicile with a couple minutes left. If we did not have the 168 hour rule and definitely the (1-5 most stupid thing ever) we might be able to safely earn a living and enjoy driving. AS FOR THE STUDY asking on the street public (which most have great difficulty operating a 4 wheel vehicle) is laughable..If you ask the same people "should trucks not be allowed on the highways" you will get 60% that will say there should not be any trucks!!!!!

  8. 8. Jim York [ December 05, 2014 @ 06:36PM ]


    I remember well when the ATA came up with the idea of the restart in the early 90s, and sent it to the DOT to be rubber stamped. There was an article in one of the trucking rags that stated, "hey it looks like you truck drivers just got a 20% raise." that being that you would be able to work more hours. Any driver with 1/2 a brain was totally insulted by this logic, try telling the 9-5 Mon-Fri office worker he or she just got a 20% raise but hey by the way you are now working 9-7.

    One other thing that I accurately predicted, when it said "a driver may restart his hours," that the industry would interpret that as "a driver may be required to do so!"

    As the case in now with most truck load carriers having their drivers trapped in a lease purchase scam AKA indentured servitude, I guess there is no choice but to run yourself to death, to pay for your job.

    By the way, there is no driver shortage! When there is a shortage of something, the law of supply and demand kicks in. If that where the case drivers should be making at least $25.00 per hour now, for all hours actual worked.

    Have a nice day.

  9. 9. Jim York [ December 05, 2014 @ 07:21PM ]

    Just a note on ELD's Yes they don't create utopia. In my humble opinion the main thing that brought them on, was time on duty not being logged as such. When drivers spend 7-8 hours at the receiving dock of an abusive grocery warehouse, unloading the trailer and palatalizing freight for the consignee, then logging he was there for 1/2 hour, to "save his hours." With the carriers knowing full well that this is just the way things are done, and with a wink and a nod not only allow it but expect it, that's the good part of ELD's.

 

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