The American Trucking Associations challenged in an Oct. 21 letter to Congress Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s assertions that proposed hours-of-service rule changes would be supported by “the most comprehensive and up-to-date data and analysis to the issue of driver fatigue and allowable hours of service.”
“There is little or no comprehensive, up-to-date evidence, data or science supporting FMCSA’s proposal,” wrote ATA President and CEO Bill Graves and Chairman Dan England, chairman of C.R. England. “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.”
Graves and England also took issue with DOT’s contention that a delay in promulgating this final rule would “create confusion and uncertainty” around the regulation, noting that “the record . . . is replete with industry and state law enforcement commentary on how much confusion and uncertainty the proposed changes would cause if finalized.”
The ATA representatives said ATA agreed with LaHood on the need to promote highway safety, but criticized the department for forgoing other more promising safety strategies in favor of an unnecessary revision of the HOS rule.
The ATA was responding to an Oct. 19 letter LaHood sent to Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), requesting she drop an amendment she introduced to the FY 2012 Transportation Appropriations bill that would block the Obama Administration from implementing its proposed HOS rules changes. “The final rule, if put in jeopardy, potentially undermines the entire regulatory process,” he said in his letter.
Ayotte, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, said, “My amendment would prevent the Administration from implementing these rules which, by DOT’s own admission, are cost-prohibitive and whose impact on safety is unclear.”
Among proposed changes, the number of daily driving hours would be reduced to 10 from 11 and the duty day to 13 hours from 14. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has promised to release the final HOS rule Oct. 28.
Organizations including the ATA, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the New Hampshire Trucking Association oppose the proposal.
Affected tractors are equipped with an automated Eaton UltraShift Plus or Eaton Advantage Transmission with right hand stalk shifter. In the affected trucks, the display on the instrument panel can indicate “N” when the shifter is set into “D” or “R,” causing the truck not to move.