For the Record

Truckers News Staff | February 01, 2011

The 2010 competition was the fifth for Rush Enterprises, owner of the largest network of Peterbilt dealers in the United States, as well as several International dealerships integrated under the Rush Truck Centers brand. Truck service technicians are “the heartbeat of a dealership,” said company President and CEO Rusty Rush, reflecting on the rapid growth of the Rush network in recent years.

He called the Rodeo a “platform I hope will help differentiate us going forward” and “one of the most exciting, gratifying, rewarding things” the company has initiated in the last five years. “There’s not enough that I can say to thank you,” Rush told the 65 competing technicians and guests.



Special Report: Time Turmoil

FMCSA proposes complicated hours-of-service changes that critics contend add little flexibility for drivers

Todd Dills and Avery Vise


Among the changes to truckers’ hours of service being considered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a possible reduction of consecutive hours of driving to seven, preceded by a 30-minute break, effectively mandating an hour of rest during the 14-hour driving window.

Also, FMCSA seeks to require the 34-hour restart period to include two nighttime periods. See the “Proposed Changes” table below for a quick-glance rundown of the changes that could effect most Class 8 over-the-road drivers. To make a comment on the proposed rule, visit www.regulations.gov and search docket ID “FMCSA-2004-19608.”

After FMCSA released details of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) Dec. 23, reaction was immediate. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, anticipating calls for further restrictions on truckers’ hours from safety groups, issued a word of caution to the American public. It highlighted the necessary role of shippers and receivers in driver hours discussions.

“We want the motoring public to know that it’s not just how long a truck driver spends behind the wheel that affects the safety of everyone on the highways,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “Many truck drivers spend between 30-40 hours per week waiting at loading docks. Everyone involved in transportation, from shippers to receivers, has a responsibility for its role in keeping highways safe. And we won’t have optimum safety until others in the supply chain truly act responsibly.”

Flexibility

After the FMCSA held hours-of-service listening sessions in 2010 to solicit comments from trucking groups, carriers and truckers, many drivers believed the agency was working with them on the issue. They were hopeful for added flexibility in the rules, particularly addressing use of the sleeper berth for short rest periods that would extend the 14-hour driving window.

On message boards, comments on blog posts and Truckers News’ Facebook page, drivers sounded off about the provision, included in the NPRM, to allow extension of the 14-hour window to 16 hours twice a week to accommodate long waits at docks. The proposed change was FMCSA’s only allowance for added flexibility compared to current rules.

Currently, only carriers meeting certain requirements can extend drivers’ daily shifts beyond 14 hours, and they can do so only once a week. Under the agency’s proposal, all drivers would have the option of extending their daily shift to 16 hours twice a week. The goal is to give them added flexibility to accommodate special situations, such as loading and unloading at terminals or ports, FMCSA says.

Truckers News’ “Marathon Trucker” columnist and company driver Jeff Clark, among others, rejected this provision. “Give two more hours to help out inefficient shippers. Nuts,” he said. “We need to force shippers and consignees to pay detention, rather than just make truckers work longer to make up for the inefficiency of others.”

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