ATA Gears up to Challenge Hours of Service Provisions

By: Classadrivers.com

The American Trucking Association and several industry leaders are pressing for a suspension of the largest hours of service changes within the DOT funding bill, citing flaws in the study used to create the rules and economic hardships to thousands of drivers and employers. The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development budget package is scheduled for a vote today.

One of the restrictions in question requires drivers to have two consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. rest periods during the 34-hour restart. The second is the once-a-week restart requirement. Alongside the one-year suspension of these two restrictions, supporters are pushing for a Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Restart Study during that time.

The ATA is urging its members to write senators in support of the suspension, saying the restrictions have “placed economic hardships on thousands upon thousands of employers" while reducing driver's wages.

"...the restrictions are having unintended impacts on many drivers, including those working very reasonable hours. In addition, and more importantly, these motor carriers have not experienced any corresponding safety or driver health benefits. FMCSA’s top leadership acknowledged the problems, characterized them as unintended consequences, but then refused to provide the affected industries with any opportunity for industry-wide meaningful relief,” the ATA letter says.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, meanwhile, opposes the efforts to change HOS rules. A letter from Executive Director Steve Keppler states that the new rules haven't been in place long enough to gather enough data to understand how the regulations have affected the industry. “To our knowledge, there is not a safety-related, science-based justification that has been presented for changing the current HOS rules; therefore, CVSA opposes any changes at this time,” the letter states.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Anne Ferro defended the research behind the restrictions. She said that the group realized there would be an economic impact, but even without the most recent crash data, the changes are having a positive impact.

Senator Kelly Ayotte questioned whether the restrictions were having an unintended consequence—putting more trucks on the road during the day when traffic is high and actually decreasing safety.

The issue has brought mixed responses from both organizations, industry leaders and congressmen. The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development budget package is expected to be voted on Thursday.