FMCSA’s Ferro, trucking groups square off in Senate over hours, agency priorities

| July 31, 2014
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FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro touted to Congress her agency’s proposed rule mandating use of electronic logging devices as bolstering on-highway safety. She also defended the 2013 hours-of-service rule as a crash-preventer, along with other agency rulemakings. Trucking groups like OOIDA and ATA, however, told lawmakers in this week’s truck safety hearing that the agency needs to realign its priorities.

At a Senate hearing on truck safety Tuesday, regulators and trucking trade groups offered testimony to lawmakers in the Senate’s commerce committee about what could be done to improve truck safety in the U.S.

Here’s a roundup of some of the statements made by participating parties:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
In what was likely her last appearance before Congress before leaving her post as head of FMCSA, Administrator Anne Ferro spoke on a bevy of topics, including the 2013 hours-of-service rule (which she stood behind), the agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, electronic logging devices, sleep apnea, driver training requirements and more.

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Hours-of-service items, however, took up the bulk of her testimony. She defended the agency’s 2013-implemented hours-of-service regulations, again reiterating that it was the result of “extensive research and data.”

She also reiterated this oft-cited point: The agency, per its analysis, only sees the 2013 34-hour restart provisions affecting 15 percent of drivers who must keep records of duty status.

“Whatever the limits on driving and work hours may be, if the motor carrier and driver plan their schedule so tightly that the driver can barely complete the run legally, then problems with completing runs inevitably will occur,” Ferro said. “That fact cannot support any rollback of the current rule.”

She also touted the benefits of nighttime sleep vs. daytime sleep, saying the rule’s requirement that a weekly restart include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods pushes drivers to nighttime rest.

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Likewise, the agency’s CSA program and its Safety Measurement System carrier ranking system improves carrier and driver safety, Ferro said.

The agency’s use of the SMS as an intervention prioritization tool “will lead to improved safety and fewer crashes,” Ferro said.

In her testimony, Ferro also pointed to other agency rulemakings — like the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners, the ELD mandate, the drug and alcohol clearinghouse, anti-coercion rule and preliminary work on entry-level driver training — as work it has done to promote safety.

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association
OOIDA’s Todd Spencer told lawmakers that FMCSA’s priorities have been misaligned relative to highway safety measures. FMCSA’s “focus should instead be on causes of crashes rather than micromanaging policies that have a negative impact on safety,” he said.

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Spencer, executive VP for OOIDA, said the agency should make driver training a priority, and he pointed lawmakers and FMCSA to OOIDA’s recently unveiled TruckersforSafety.com site, which lobbies for the next highway bill to tackle a driver training rule, along with changing the way FMCSA operates and produces rules.

As noted in Overdrive‘s April coverage of the unveiling of Truckers for Safety and Fixing FMCSA, OOIDA is pushing for evaluation of all of the agency’s current rules for their impact on safety and on the industry, especially owner-operators. 

“It’s not necessary to put small-business truckers out of business in order to hold public safety as the highest priority,” said Spencer. “Insisting on continuing this approach will lead many of the safest to leave trucking altogether, and  this will create a void filled by inexperienced and unproven drivers, thus undermining public safety even more.”

Click here to read more on OOIDA’s push for FMCSA reform. 

American Trucking Associations
ATA Executive VP Dave Osiecki, speaking on what the industry does for safety, says trucking invests $7.5 billion each year in crash prevention, including investments in safety training, safety-related bonuses, incentives for drivers and safety technology like collision mitigation, active braking, video monitoring and ELDs.

“Over the past decade the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes has dropped 17% – even with the industry operating an additional 2.7 million trucks and driving an additional 54 billion miles,” Osiecki said. “More trucks, billions more miles, fewer crashes.”

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Osiecki said priorities for trucking regulators should include rules that reduce truck speed, encourage stability control systems and require electronic logs. He also said aggresive on-road enforcement of driver behavior — passenger cars included — would help reduce crashes.

“Driver error causes most crashes,” he said. “More specifically, driver mistakes and driver misbehaviors — by both professional drivers and passenger vehicle drivers. In fact, car drivers contribute significantly to truck crash numbers.”

The “regulatory, enforcement and safety program lens” should be focused on “the most common mistakes and misbehaviors,” Osiecki said.

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  • Dave Hash

    Why is ATA focusing in reducing truck speed as more and more states are raising their speed limits? If you reduce all trucks to say 65 mph and let the cars run as normal, you’ll create a logjam of trucks trying to pass each other, getting more aggressive, while also facing more aggression from four wheelers trying to get around them.

  • Mike Smith

    First the gov allows corporations born & breed in our country, to betray us, by moving out of the country they made billions in, off of American Citizens. Then this communist government turns around and creates a number of new government agencies, & business industries on the backs of the truck drivers/trucking industry, ie., FMCSA, and all the drug testing businesses for example.

    All of this puts there communist voters to work. What has happened, and what is happen should fairly clear.

  • Truthseeker

    One glaring problem with this article is that Todd Spencer was not part of the panel of witnesses at the hearing which the article clearly implies – the only way he told lawmakers anything was through another “press release.”

  • Greg Winter

    ATA is nothing but a shill for the big fleets who want all of us small guys out of the business. Independents have NO power in this. We are too unorganized and it makes me sick to see this happening to us. Thanks to Werner, Schneider, JB Hunt and the rest, I don’t see a bright future for my business.

  • Michael Ridley

    Simple fuel mileage

  • Vike

    (1) 1:00am to 5:00am for 2/two consecutive nights just makes commercial 18 wheeler traffic more predictable for a terrorist.
    (2) Same is true for 14hour sand clock day.
    (3) Overall it makes it easier for Load theft.
    (4) ?When is USDOT post 9/11 going to take DRIVERS’ & PUBLIC’s SAFETY into account & require SECURITY ALARM SYSTEMS on all CMV’S & Commercial vehicles in general?
    I had Security Alarm sensors on: Doors; Hood; Fuel Flaps; Motion in Cab; & Shock Sensors for Tires
    & shock sensor was sensitive enough to pick up on both Tire Theft attempt or some1 tampering with Trailer Door & LED Trailer Tail Lights.
    (5) ?Roll Cage in Cab over Driver, Passenger seats?
    ?Do u wamt2 bet w/me that in the truck that has an expensive Robot drive system installed that there will become a manifest need for legislators to legislate some portioned version of a roll cage be installed to protect computer truck driving robot brains from malfunctioning & becoming a danger to the public? …betchya

  • whooops

    Yup

  • Viki

    Again, if u need regular night time sleep hours, you don’t belong OTR. Further, these alleged safety rules wrapped in a blanket of concern for driver’s welfare, can purportedly be flipped on ear to further justify switch to Robot Driver Systems. And world going to heck in a hand basket lately & oil fields burning, also provide additional justification to remove unpredictable human variables. Conversely, increased CYBER Threat should give ample justification for inclusion of a REAL TRUCKER!

  • Jimmy

    ATA is not about safety they are about a political agenda funded by big carriers. The big carriers that fund the ATA by means of paying their drivers low wages, failing to get drivers home, charging drivers for fuel when they idle to keep cool or warm and charge them for damaged equipment wether at fault or not. The political agenda of the ATA is very simple. To transform the industry through lobbying to follow the driver policies of all BIG carrier corporations. i.e. Speed limiters, ELDs and no night driving when most roads are clear of cars. Then the ATA headed by former Kansas governor Bill Graves cries driver turnover with respect to big carriers. I wonder what his salaried motivation is.

  • sthomas1957

    Whenever I have a load going into NYC I pull up short somewhere in Maryland or Pennsylvania about 100 or so miles away and wait. Then at about midnight I make my move so that I get into the city around 0200 or 0300, usually little to no traffic at all, and make my way to the receiver. I make NYC highways safer by avoiding daytime driving when most motorists are on the road, I can usually pull over or stop if I must to do a map check without getting run over by anyone, and find a place not too far from my destination.
    Put an ELD in my truck and I’ll still run that way because it’s the safest time of day to drive, I minimize going 20 mph in traffic (usually I can average at least 50 mph), and I have time to read my map or GPS correctly and avoid accidents. Then I log it as though I got there at 10:00 pm so I’m good the next day. It’s worked for me for years and anybody who makes irregular, occasional trips to NYC knows what I’m talking about.

  • Viki

    ? How about skip more rules & let the “picture tell the story”?
    So, 100% 24/7/365 dash video cam digitals & those new 360 Degree Cameras. 99.9% of time it’s NOT the CMV. And especially dayTime Rush Hour if camcorders ON LIGHT can be seen both cars & trucks in my experience rediscover proper road courtesy /safety conscious hat. I hav repeatedly over the years watched the
    most crazy aggressive ‘AssaultWithAdeadlyWeapon’ driving style male driver back down when captured/caught dead to rights by the CAMCORDER. And believe me it happens more times than I prefer & that you’d like to believe. One truck company (if i didnt know better I’d say it appeard as if) they hire midEastOTMlookFolkWhoSeem2TryHarderThanMostByAwholeBunch,ToDoStupidStuff&HavAxdents&holdUpTrafficByMajorRegionalBusySpots @worst time & a 360 Cam’ on that dude’s nose on dash or on my dash pointed at him, would cut th@ bleep to zero benefit result for perp’.

  • Bigwheel

    You’re on the wrong subject

  • Bigwheel

    what is your MC number

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  • Chuck

    E-logs are a terrible thing. Most of the people that have them drive like they are in a four wheeler because they can’t afford to loose the time. The one size fits all doesn’t work for anybody.

  • Chris Charlton

    Lower speeds cause distracted driving…….watch other drivers in Oregon

  • g22p

    Ann Ferro caused more truck deaths than any other person in history . I think she is a terrorist , I just don’t know who she works for . Cant be America .

  • Jack Simon

    The entire trucking industry yells about having a driver shortage. It isn’t a driver shortage, it’s a pay shortage. If you paid a decent wage, there would be no shortage.
    Similarly, they yell about “jobs that americans won’t do. Well I contend that if you paid a good wage to do those jobs, there would be plenty of people that would be in the fields picking oranges and other fruit and be quite happy doing it.
    No job is something that an American won’t do, they just want a fair wage to do it. Trucking is no different.

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