First, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association sent a letter to carrier executives asking for support for its petition of federal officials to change the sleeper berth provision in the new hours-of-service rule.
In that Sept. 26 letter, OOIDA President Jim Johnston described ATA President Bill Graves’ recent interview in an industry publication as an indication Graves’ association had “thrown in the towel on changing HOS regulations.”
Graves responded with a letter to Johnston on what he termed OOIDA’s “attack” on the ATA’s efforts regarding the new HOS. Graves outlines his association’s recent actions on that issue, which include supporting a congressional bill that would delay HOS enforcement until January.
The ATA’s executive committee also endorsed a resolution Sept. 7 that included plans to collect data on sleeper berth usage. If that information indicates need for a change, the ATA said it would petition for rulemaking.
Johnston replied to that letter Oct. 14, which was also sent to carrier executives.
“The last thing we need is more studies and pilot programs,” Johnston wrote. “What we do need is a united industry stand against poorly reasoned regulations that detract from industry productivity and rob professional drivers of the flexibility to operate in what has already been proven over years of experience to be the safest manner possible.”
OOIDA has petitioned the agency to reconsider the change in the sleeper berth provision and its requests include wanting teams to be able continue to split sleeper berth time as they have for years before the new rule.
Coalition Wants Tighter Regs
Four activist groups, calling themselves the Truck Safety Coalition, held a press conference Oct. 17 in Washington, D.C., urging the U.S. Congress not to write the new driver hours-of-service rule into law.
Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, Parents Against Tired Truckers, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and Public Citizen also renewed their pleas for the U.S. Department of Transportation to lower the maximum driving time.
The groups criticized the 11-hour drive times, the 34-hour restart provision and the absence of electronic onboard recorders.
The groups also criticized the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s “soft enforcement” period during the first three months of the new rule. Until Dec. 31, minor infractions will be given nothing but a warning, but obvious violations will be cited and the drivers penalized.
The groups issued what they called a Travelers Alert, saying they wanted to warn the public they were sharing the road with tired truckers.
“In giving states the green light to not enforce truckers’ hours of service, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is also giving the green light to unsafe driving conditions,” said PATT founder Daphne Izer. “No load of freight is worth a human life.”