FMCSA’s Ferro defends hours rule, says agency won’t undo it

| November 21, 2013

Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series on the hours-of-service hearing held Nov. 21 by the House’s Small Business Subcommittee. Click here to see Part 2, which covers the testimony and questioning of an owner-operator, fleet managers and a researcher from Penn State.

11.21.2013_HannaFerro

Rep. Richard Hanna, chairman of the House’s Small Business Subcommittee, took FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro (right) to task in a hearing Nov. 21 on trucking’s hours-of-service regulations. Here, the two talk after the hearing.

Administrator Anne Ferro persistently defended her Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours-of-service rule Nov. 21 in a House subcommittee hearing, saying she is not open to repealing the regulations. “No, absolutely not,” she said when asked by subcommittee chairman Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) whether she would be open to undoing the rule.

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Members of the House’s Small Business Subcommittee didn’t pull any punches in questioning the administrator, who testified before the panel of congresspersons at a hearing dubbed “Wrong Way: The Impact of FMCSA’s Hours of Service Regulation on Small Businesses,” an oversight hearing organized to question the agency’s data and methodology and the perceived benefits relative to the knock in driver wages and fleet productivity the industry says it is incurring.

The rule, Ferro said, “is a solid rule. It’s been upheld by the court. It’s based on sound research,” she said.

As the committee name denotes, the hearing — in addition to questioning the agency’s methodology — was held to measure the effects the new hours provisions have on small businesses in America, said Hanna in his statement opening the event. Small trucking companies obviously are included in that measure, he said, but “nearly every type of small business in our country” utilizes trucking to makes its operation tick.

The hearing also provided a public evidence gathering for Hanna’s TRUE Safety Act bill, which he and two other congressmen introduced in the House last month. The bill would undo the hours rule change until the Government Accountability Office could study FMCSA’s methodology further.

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Hanna and Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) — both co-sponsors of the TRUE Safety Act — were the most pointed of the subcommittee members, continually trying to point out both the widespread and detrimental effects the trucking industry says it’s experiencing due to the rule changes and pressing Ferro on the quality of the data the agency used to make the rule and the reason she and the agency  moved forward with the rule without having completed a field study.

Hanna said FMCSA has acted “arrogantly and insensitively” by moving forward with the rule without first performing and using the field study required by the MAP-21 highway funding act passed last summer. The agency, he said, “rushed into” creating a rule that “is inflicting pain on people,” citing American Transportation Research Institute data, which noted the rule will cost the industry $376 million annually and will cost drivers an aggregate $1.6 billion in wages each year.

“What do you say to somebody actually in the business, who didn’t spend two days in a truck but spent a lifetime in a truck, when she (a constituent) says the 1 to 5 a.m. has taken away quality of life, reduced productivity as well as disruption of the drivers’ normal sleep schedules?” Hanna asked. “And yet you’re supposed to be a data-driven organization.”

Ferro said the agency did not rush the rule, and that the hours provisions deserve discussion, because they affect both the lives of drivers and their businesses themselves. However, she said, she stands by the rule and its methodology. “[The rule] absolutely is data-based, research-based, fully vetted, [with an] unprecedented level of transparency throughout the development of this rule process,” she said. “So in terms of being either theory-based or philosophy or arrogant, we have been as open…”

Hanna cut Ferro off there to ask her “How she could say that” when she hasn’t completed the field study or taken into account the change of driver workload and has in effect pushed drivers “into hours that are more” congested. “Why is the agency so numb to the industry?” he said.

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Ferro refuted that point as well, saying the industry has a great sensitivity for those in the industry, including drivers, and how the rule impacts them. As an aside to that point, she argued on a point of driver advocacy, saying Congress needs to address the issue of detention time and, more importantly, the lack of compensation for drivers when held for hours waiting to load or unload.

“Inadequate compensation — 36 cents a mile for a driver running 70 hours a week — is unconscionable,” she said.

Hanna quickly pushed the conversation back to the hours of service. “That’s got nothing to do with this issue. Why do you even mention that?” he asked. “We’re saying you’re actually making it worse for the very people you’re saying you want to help.”

***

Rep. Rice questioned the agency’s oft-cited life-saving benefit of the rules — 19 per year — saying that number is statistically invalid and mostly unmeasurable “That’s such a small percentage (1/2 of a percent), we won’t even know these rules are having any effect, will we?” he asked.

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Ferro responded by saying the 19 lives estimated to be saved “is not a sample, but those are actual lives. Every life is precious,” she said.

Rice also belabored the consequences of the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. restart provisions, potentially forcing drivers onto roads at more crowded times of the day, like morning and afternoon rush hours.

Ferro said the restart provisions do not do that. “This rule does not put trucks in traffic any more than they already are in traffic.” She also used the ATRI research to back up her own points, saying in an analysis of 40,000 logbooks, only 1/3 of 1 percent were substantively changed by the new hours provisions.

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.), along with Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), questioned Ferro on the field study. Study results were due in September, but Congress still hasn’t received it. Ferro said the study is under peer review and should be ready next spring.

Huelskamp also pressed Ferro on the age of the data used by the agency to create the rule, as it relied on crash data from 2003 and studies done in the 1990s. Ferro conceded the point, saying the agency has carried out analysis in an attempt to “move forward using more current numbers.”

One of Ferro’s final points of defense was a comparison of the number of deaths in trucking-related accidents to the airline industry: “The number of fatalities [if it were 1,000-2,000 a year in truck-related crashes] — we’re talking two to three 747 [jets] crashing every year. You wouldn’t tolerate it,” she said. “The American people wouldn’t tolerate it.”

Part 2 of this piece — which covers testimony from an owner-operator, fleet managers and a transportation researcher at Penn State — will run Friday, Nov. 22. 

  • ivan67702000@yahoo.com

    Todays American Trucker, Will spend 2000 on useless chrome and Zero on a oil change or Grease job, and Listen to a temp beeper while pulling the big hill on a Desert hot day all 17 miles of it. Back into a hole and trim the markers off the trailer that he is trying to squat next too(like a bitch dog). all the while calling him a asshole for parking so close.Knows only 2 types of air pressures rubber fling and 110. Brake adjusting is a thing of the past while smoking all the way down the Grape Vine. And then pull over with everything hotter than the hubbs of hell I can only imaging the shit that got worped on that trip. When that big rigger went past me on cabbage looking like a cruise missile I felt compelled to drop another gear because I did not know what that tribul cop(in hot pursuit) was going to do about that Sh!t other than meet the rigger at the seen of the accident. And you Guys wonder why you need a Baby Sitter?

  • Charlie Soufflet

    very well said and I agree too!!

  • Jimmy Wells

    God help, can you do anything, to get this dumb lady out of our trucking life

  • Larry Perry

    Anne is right make them pay more money and detention time. .36 a mile in 2013, who in there right mind want to do that after you sit 4-6 hours a day at shippers and receivers for free. When shippers and receivers know they would have to pay then you would not get to a place for a 8am appointment, and get empty at 12 noon.

  • Someone Who Care’s

    To Anne Ferro, Maybe you should get your a,,s,,s in a truck and see it for your self that it doesn’t work. And you should take a pay cut like us!

  • Joshua Waterman

    Speaking of illegals, do the OTR laws apply to drivers coming in from across the boarders? If this does not, it seems like a green light for Mexico and Canada to capitalize in the job market being sent across the boarder. It would be cheaper for companies based in Toronto to double cross to deliver loads. Plus if they don’t have to worry about keeping ELogs, Cameras, and HoS, why wouldn’t they?

  • Debieve

    It will never change..talking smack about each other only divides us farther..exactly what the Gov’t wants..Anne Ferro is not qualified to impose any rules on anyone..using useless data should be unacceptable..I am a human being who happens to drive a truck..period..I can’t speak for all but I try to respect another..The only way to get anything done in this industry is to have good leadership..that is lacking..Why rant and rave over all this bull-pucky when you aren’t going to do anything to change it..it is what it is..go about your day and be happy you are still somewhat able to support yourself and family! Many of my friends are totally decent people, they don’t do the ridiculous things that some others do, they just do their job with pride hoping to set a good example..There’s a whole lot more serious issues going on in this country that effects all of us whether we drive a truck or not..we either stand or we fall..

  • g

    I side with Anne Baby…..the level of Idiotas driving truck today shows the NEED for babysitting……monitoring…GOO GOO GA GA…..welcome to mega Fleet Blunders!!! Cmon these chumps cant even back up a truck……they NEED their Government Daddy to Monitor everything they do!!!! Look at all the illegal aliens driving Trucks too!!! They can NOT read English signs and end up Crashing because of it….the industry is Out Of Control in a Big Way……..mega Fleets are mostly responsible….their rediculous “drivers” have brought this B.S. upon the trucking industry because of their INCOMPETENTCY and GREED…….Gov Subsidy for as many IDIOTS as they can send down the road in a truck…sure they NEED to be monitored and Inspected….and told when to take a little “warm milk” break!!!!!!!!

  • guest

    Cameras and Masks….hilarious and TRUE!!
    More paraphanelia on the way!! Electo Logs for everyone!!! Hitler or BUST!!!!! Speed Limiters indeed….got ta have one of those…how did trucking get along with OUT Anne and her Gang??? Poke that Camera in my Face…..Im with ya Anne!!! Say Cheese??? Here COPS need some more money????? as a protest we should all throw a couple bucks out the window at the weigh station AFTER we get the GREEN LITE! lol

  • guest

    All TRUE!! These CSA COPS have plenty ammunition because of the crappy “drivers” and their jack ass company who have no business on the nations highways…..

  • g

    Yep you are right! Mega fleets hire unsuspecting CLOWNS to “train” as a truck driver….the company gets BIG subsidy money….the “trainee” tries it out for awhile and Quits…and the company gets another sucker…turnover can be 300% annually at these RIP OFF companies.

  • eddylucas

    Ferro’s a pawn just like you. This administration together with the progressives, greenies whatever you want to call them have an agenda.

    Get all freight hauled by the railroad, because its greener. If you want to drive a truck it’ll be either a UPS or FedEx truck.

  • norman ott

    I would agree with that. I started in 76 and I had no OTR experience or had not been around trucks much but wanted to learn. Back then the old timers were willing to help a young driver.

  • james

    I hate to tell you but without truck driver sacrificing time from their family everyday this country would crumble in fear of no food or gas or I pods , I phones no more star bucks ,
    I think l their needs to be someone to sand up the Industry(truckers) not companies and tell them who is in charge ,there are enough trucks in the US to shut the country down for a week and show the Government who’s running the country what rules to be in place and starting with HOS being changed, e-log stopped ,the studies show nothing to do with how drivers crashes (if any data exist), All the rule are doing is hurting Unite states of America Economy ( Greatest land to live and raise a family).We need enforce the alien document, stop handing out food stamps.

  • james

    Do you drive a truck ?
    if you don’t then you the idiot

  • james

    whoever appointed for the office should be recalled just as she should be,
    Unless she knows what she is talking about or has been there , then I think she needs to shut up and leave the truck drivers alone

  • Godfearingrebel

    This idiot level you talk about is one of the results of these commies. If you remember these rules came first and then our industry went to pot. This was a way of life that was attractive to those who considered it for a carear. Now its no longer attractive but its driving the old school drivers out. Get rid of the people paying the administration off and these drivers will come back along with a higher grade of new drivers.

  • gregbo

    “she argued on a point of driver advocacy, saying Congress needs to address the issue of detention time and, more importantly, the lack of compensation for drivers when held for hours waiting to load or unload.
    “Inadequate compensation — 36 cents a mile for a driver running 70 hours a week — is unconscionable,” she said.”
    Seems to me this lady understands the fundamental problems with the 19th century style piecemeal pay scheme that carriers use to exploit drivers. I also don’t like the seemingly endlessly increasing burden of regulation but all drivers are underpaid in my view. We subsidize cheap consumer prices through our unpaid labor unlike any other industry in the country. The congressmen who refused to address these issues are nothing but schills for the ATA.

  • Shadow Hauling

    40,000 logbooks ??? Ya Right ! And who had the time to go through 40,000 logbooks and compare data ? I know that because of the new restart and 1-5 am stop and I cant sleep session, I am MORE tired during the day and hit more big city rush hours now than i ever had. This only increases stress, road rage and eventualy makes me more tired. Because I have to make a living and appointments Im forced (own my own company) to keep driving to keep these. Do away with the restart and 1-5 laws and I can sleep when I WANT TO and WHEN I’M TIRED. NOT WHEN SOME NUMBER COUNTER AND SOMEONE who has NO idea about our lives make these stupid laws !

  • Shadow Hauling

    I dont know who you drive for but the UPS and Fed Ex drivers Ive seen lately are dangerous, speeding and taking more risk than Ive ever seen them take. They must be hiring these same drivers you talk about. I recently came across 70 in In. and had a fedex driver pulling doubles pass me on the right when I was 5 mph over the speed limit like I was sitting there. all the while both trailers swaying back and forth worse that the American flag in a hurricane. When he got up the road I heard two other drivers talking about how close the driver came to clipping them with the trailers as he/she flew by. Sounds like they are cutting corners and hiring these same DUMB ASS ACCIDENT PRONE DRIVERS you talk about . Get out and drive common sense to see what is really happening and put in more than a 100 mile round trip. Are you sure your not ferro’s husband ?

  • guest

    OLD DICK Hanna….is being Bribed to stick up for BigMoney..he would approve the driver to run 24/7 for free…what the hell does he care about a Trucker?? He doesnt….he just wants MONEY and POWER….Anne said truckers need better pay and detention…and OLD DICK tried to Shut Her Up!!! His DONORS want NO PART of that!!!

  • g

    Yep that Fed Ex driver was running LATE so he was going for Broke to get deliver On TIME….putting it all on the line if the trailers were whipping back and forth and other drivers saw him too!!! Fed Ex does NOT accept excuses for being late

  • Patrick

    Thank You Anne Ferro, for Representing Over-The-road Drivers!

  • Patrick

    Companies can afford to pay wages more. Who is gonna take the first step?

  • X

    When people see a container train hauling 500 containers they comment about how many trucks the railroad is getting off the highway. What they do not realize is that the train hauling 500 containers will need 1000 trucks to service it, 500 at the departure point & 500 more at the destination. Most of the trucks hauling these containers for several hundred miles away from the rail yards are good trucks, but most of the trucks in local container drayage are real piles of SxxT.

  • JR23456

    Driver compensation is a huge issue … embedded in the H.O.S. rules. I am a huge proponent of hourly pay from the minute you start until you log off. Overtime after 8 in a day or 40 hrs in a week. It would be a huge step towards safety on the roads along with improving driver health.
    All drivers want is to be paid for everything we do relating to the job. IE: Pre-trips, Fueling, Unloading/loading, breakdowns etc…
    The good companies would survive and be profitable and the others will fall by the wayside.
    The H.O.S. would become a mute point partly because drivers wouldn’t HAVE to work 70-90 hours a week to make a decent paycheck . Companies couldn’t get away with paying a driver 400 miles when the trip is actually 570 miles. The miles wouldn’t matter because an hour is still 60 minutes and these executives and regulators haven’t figured out how to make an hour into 40 minutes…. (YET)
    It would put companies on an even playing field as far as labor costs so the well managed companies will survive and flourish, the roads will be safer, the drivers healthier, the freight flow more consistent and more efficient .
    Just a thought !

  • Zumba900

    Well said and perfectly correct.
    Easy to audit too…just add up the hours.
    You pay doesn’t stop because of weather/traffic delays as well.
    Drivers can stop trying to recoup lost earnings by working longer hours.
    People are shitty judges of their own abilities.
    Denying your body the rest that it requires is not heroic or smart. Fatigue will take you down eventually, no matter how stubborn you are..fatigue will always win.
    Most people spend more time learning how to type than they do learning to drive a rig.
    And it shows.
    Graduated licensing for a CDL by size, weight, time and vehicle configuration and an apprenticeship period would make a great difference.
    Understand this:
    THEY want cheap labor and will do anything to NOT PAY.
    Skilled workers are not cheap, and, Cheap workers are not Skilled.
    You live by the clock then you should be paid by the clock.!!!

  • james

    your opinion is just as it is.

  • james

    that’s so original did you to ask someone to come up with that.

  • Carl Forfun

    This is starting to get crazy… Next thing you know we will be limited to just 8 hours of work time and 6 hours of drive time.

    These politicians just want to make laws and take bribes without consideration for the outcome will really be. (higher costs to customers and less tax income for the government) All based on biased facts. They cherry pick sources to state their case.

    Most accidents are cause by the 4 wheelers. (drunk drivers, distracted driving, and the I’m better than you driver attitude)

    Everyone else can work as much as they want, yes I can see needing 8 hours of sleep time, But telling us we have to take a 30 when we already stop for fuel, food, restroom, ect is nuts.

    Just another non-driver making rules for us.

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