White House reviews hours rule

| November 02, 2011

The White House Office of Management and Budget is reviewing the final rule for truck drivers’ hours of service after receiving the rule from the U.S. Department of Transportation Nov. 1.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had sent the proposal to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for review on Aug. 11.

Under the current proposal, FMCSA is, among other changes, considering whether to reduce the daily driving limit from 11 hours to 10 hours and to limit the 34-hour restart provision by requiring that it include two periods from midnight to 6 a.m. and limiting its use to once per week.

The American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association have said the proposal is costly and unnecessary since studies indicate safety improvements under the 2008 rule.

In 2009, FMCSA had entered into a settlement agreement with safety advocacy groups and the Teamsters union to revisit the 2008 rule and publish a revised rule. This agreement stipulated if the agency produces a “substantially different” rule from the current one, this “may” eliminate the need for further judicial review. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia originally set the Federal Register publication deadline for July 26, which it later extended to Oct. 28.

FMCSA on Oct. 28 announced it would not be able to publish the rule by that day’s court-imposed extended deadline. The deadline was extended to Nov. 28.

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) recently proposed to add language to the transportation appropriations bill (H.R. 2112) that would block the planned changes to the hours-of-service regulations. The measure, Senate Amendment 754, states that “none of the funds made available under this heading may be used to finalize, enforce, or implement the hours-of-service regulations proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on December 29, 2010.”

The Senate passed H.R. 2112 Nov. 1, sending the bill to House-Senate committee discussion before going to the White House for President Obama’s signature.

LaHood sent a letter to Ayotte asking the senator to drop her measure.

In a letter to LaHood dated  Oct. 21, ATA President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Graves and Chairman Dan England said LaHood’s contention was well off-base. “There is little or no comprehensive up-to-date evidence, data or science supporting FMCSA’s proposal,” ATA wrote. “FMCSA readily admitted it did not have sufficient data on which to base a driving time limit change, yet the agency argued for and stated it ‘currently favors’ reducing the limit.”

House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor wrote a letter to Obama Oct. 5 asking the president to withdraw the proposed hours-of-service revision because its costs would hurt the U.S. economy.

Their letter came two weeks after a similar Sept. 23 letter to Obama from House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica. The Florida Republican wrote that the proposed rule would be an unnecessary and costly regulatory burden on truckers given the improved record of truck safety since the 2008 rule became effective.

Three other Republican committee members signed Mica’s letter: Tennessee’s John Duncan, Highway Subcommittee chairman; Pennsylvania’s Bill Schuster, chairman of the Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee; and Missouri’s Sam Graves, Small Business Committee chairman. Should FMCSA proceed with the new rule, the four House members would weigh options that could include hearings or legislation.

  • LAWRENCE LAMSON

    LEAVE US ALONE!!!!!!start paying attention 2 ppl who uses cell phones without headsets,ppl who don’t care 2 buckle their child in the car seat,ppl who driving illegally!star by teaching space management around 18 wheelers in driver’s ed!that’s how u going 2 make the roads safer!everybody always trying 2 dive in our pocketbooks.simple ppl r attacking truck drivers over anger cuz we always seem 2 b in their way.u all want 2 park us so bad but we r dangerously short of park’n spaces,u always want ur load there so bad but when we get there u r never ready 4 us and we sit 4 hours loosing precious time,u have a damand 4 our service but always looking 4 ways 2 kill our wallets that feeds our families n YES WE R HUMAN BEINGS JUST LIKE U AND YES WE DO HAVE FAMILIES JUST LIKE U!what freaking gives???u have a bunch of ppl in congress that don’t know physically nothing about trucking business that making these nonsense rules its always a science study!how about getting ur lazy tux suit butt out that chair get into a truck 4 a couple of weeks and physically live like we do and see what kind of b.s we deal with daily bases then u can go back and make up some rules that make some decent sense!

  • Barry Lemberger

    Lawrence, You make some very valid points. If you want to be taken seriously, speak in full sentences. Your comment reads like a high school kid texting!

  • Shawn Jury

    I believe if safety were a real concern of these groups they would establish a national plan to implement an electronic means of signing in / out of an address location. Perhaps using cell phones and / or gps equipment and logging a time. This would eliminate the need for OBR’s and validate the drivers claim for detention. Here is another novel idea classify the driver as skilled labor and provide a minimum wage guarantee. Move drivers to an hourly scale and do away with mileage based pay. If its about revenue generation, well then your doing a fine job. Carry on.

  • John Scott

    Mr. Lamson Hours of service have been around for a long time. As a Owner Operator I agree its time to set HOS and stick with them. But I disagree that reducing them is hurting anyone. If you cannot make money driving 10 hrs a day then its not the HOS that needs changing its the way freight is hauled in the US. If you look at Europe for example I understand time at shippers and recievers is significantly less then in the US. Also why don’t we look at how we are paid as drivers. We complain about HOS simply because if we are to comply with the HOS we are recording time on duty that most of us are simply not paid for. Trucking right now is a thankless and under paid profession. Not to mention the long term problems of parking,timely loading and unloading and yes HOS regulation that change everytime some group convinces our Goverment agencies like the FMCSA that truck drivers are killing everyone. But as I said at the beginning. Government regulation will always be a part of trucking. You can either work with it,against it, or just stop being a truck driver and avoid it.

  • David Carpenter

    Mr. Scott,
    What you say about regulations is true, they are a part of the trucking industry and will remain so. But I think when regulation becomes strangulation, then it’s time to push back on some of the regulations. I don’t think that’s it’s the loss of 1 hour of driving time in the proposed HOS that has other drivers concerned financialy, but it’s this point along with the 34 hour restart change that is creating concern. Maybe the restart changes won’t impact you but they will impact me and alot of drivers causing the loss of many hours from a work week.

  • Loren Hunt

    My father was a preacher on Sundays and drove a truck all week for many years, retiring about 20 years ago. He was a WWII Marine Corps veteran (in the south Pacific) and worked hard all his life supporting our big family. He is 84 years old and will tell you that hours of service regulations and heavy-handed enforcement only add unnecessary stress to a driver, and he’s right.

    Let free market work. Eliminate the hours of service regulations altogether. They were implemented after pressure by the union to reduce working hours and have become not much more than a source of revenue stream.

    There is no conformity or regularity in a driver’s day; every day is different. Put the full responsibility on the driver to know how he feels and how much he can work each day.

    There is a desperate need for improvement in the trucking industry, forcing shippers and receivers to respect drivers and their time and pay them for every minute at the dock. Other than that, let the driver decide how he feels that day; depending on weather, traffic, stress level, how much sleep and proper nutrition he’s had in the last few days, time of day, etc., don’t pretend to know how many hours he is able to drive.

    NOBODY ever obeys the speed limit or hours of service regulations to the T, and like my father always said, “Log books and speed limits just make a liar out of a preacher!” It’s time to quit making criminals out of hard-working Americans, it’s time to quit pretending that hours of service regulations and enforcement actually improve safety.

    Does anybody really think drivers would intentionally drive dangerously? Would any drivers think it’s worth the risk to push beyond their capabilities? Aren’t you saying professional drivers are too stupid to know how they feel?

    Eliminate the hours of service regulations and I’d bet money that safey would not be negatively impacted. We would have enough experienced American drivers willing to stay in the industry, which would reduce the risk of the many new, inexperienced drivers that we see on the road today. But then, what do I know? I’m just a dumb truck driver.

  • David Carpenter

    Amen to what you say Loren.

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