Special Report: Hours of Service
Politicians Support Current Hours Rule
A bipartisan group of Congressmen and senators has called on the Obama administration to abandon its hours-of-service proposal and retain the current safety rules.
“The rules currently in place are working well and do not need to be changed,” 122 representatives wrote to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Since the current rules were implemented seven years ago, the trucking industry’s safety performance has improved at an unprecedented rate.”
The letter notes that since the rules went into effect in 2004, the number of fatal and injury crashes involving large trucks has fallen to historic lows, even as trucks have driven almost 10 billion more miles.
“If the proposed changes are put in place, companies will be forced to increase the number of trucks on the road necessary for delivering the same amount of freight; adding to final product costs and increasing congestion on our nation’s highways,” a group of 23 senators wrote in their letter to LaHood.
Lawmakers added that the proposed rules are much more opaque and complex than the current standards and “such complexity will only serve to hamper both industry compliance and motor carrier enforcement.”
Previously, the ATA contended the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration misapplied scientific studies’ findings to support its proposed changes to the current HOS rules.
ATA said FMCSA used the work of Dr. Francesco Cappuccio, a physician, professor and researcher at Warwick Medical School in the United Kingdom who reviewed 16 published studies on the effect of sleep duration on mortality and co-authored a 2007 study used by the agency to support its proposal. FMCSA used this study to conclude that short projected increases in sleep could generate roughly $690 million in annual health benefits for drivers.
According to ATA, Cappuccio said FMCSA misused his sleep research and concluded that the agency cannot use it to quantify benefits to justify its regulatory changes.
Carrier Tests Proposed Hours Rule
During a four-week test of proposed changes in hours of service rules, Werner Enterprises driver Alan Parker said he was less productive, more stressed and wasted time.
Parker made his comments at an HOS listening session Feb. 17 held by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Many drivers and industry trade groups have criticized the proposal as too complex and unnecessary.
Parker, a 24-year driving veteran, was asked by Werner to conduct the experiment, record differences in his work and comment on the changes.
“In my experience having 10 hours a day to drive caused me to stop sooner and start my day sooner,” said Parker about the proposal to reduce daily driving to 10 hours from 11. He said he had to start as early as 2:30 a.m. compared with 5 a.m., when he would normally start.
During a route that runs from Nebraska to Utah, Parker said he drove 1,837 miles over 30.75 hours of drive time. Under the 10-hour provision, it took him three full days and part of a fourth to complete the run. Under 11 hours, it takes him less than three days to do the same route, “with less stress and less pressure,” he said. “It gives me that little bit of leeway I might need.”
On the proposal to extend the work window from 14 hours to 16 twice a week, Parker said he wasn’t able to test it to meet current hours regulations. Twice, he said, it would have been welcome, including once when he had to wait five hours at a shipper’s location. “This is the only part of the new proposal I think would be a benefit to a driver,” he said.
Parker said when he’s on the road, extra time off from driving “doesn’t mean more rest, it usually means more stress. If a driver could take a two-hour break and it not count against his 14-hour clock, that would encourage him to take a nap through the day. Instead we drive tired once in a while because we have the miles.”
Taking a proposed required 30-minute break twice a day was inconvenient, Parker said. One day, he had to stop 45 minutes from his home to take a 30-minute break. He said he was able to take the break at a location he knew would allow him to stop, but many drivers would be forced to search for a place to stop in an unfamiliar area.
Parker proposed being able to combine 15 minutes of off-duty time such as fueling with another 15 minutes to make a 30-minute break to make better use of time.
On the proposed 34-hour reset, including two midnight to 6 a.m. periods, Parker said the period is likely to stretch into 50 hours or more. In his test, he arrived home later than usual and was required to wait longer to get in the early morning periods before departing.
Parker concluded that if the hours rules are changed, “It would affect me in being a productive driver. In the past 30 days, I can account for three days of production that I lost. It would also affect me being a safe driver by causing me to start my days earlier because I have to stop earlier because of my 14-hour clock running out.”
Report Disputes FMCSA’s Benefit Claims
A review of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Hours of Service “Regulatory Impact Analysis” has found the agency wildly overstated the proposal’s benefits.
While the agency claims its proposal would result in up to $380 million in annual benefits, an Edgeworth Economics review finds the proposal would result in net costs, and not benefits, of approximately $320 million a year. The Edgeworth report states “…we find that FMCSA has overstated the net benefits of the proposed rule by about $700 million annually.”
The report was prepared for the American Trucking Associations, which has been critical of the hours change proposal.
Edgeworth Economics, an international consulting firm, found the FMCSA used questionable logic, inadequate data and sloppy math in attempting to justify its proposed changes to the hours-of-service rules for commercial drivers, an ATA news release said.
“Many of FMCSA’s new approaches rely on misapplication of available data, use outdated information, or lack empirical support entirely.”
— Edgeworth Economics
“FMCSA has made a number of substantial changes to its approach since the previous [regulatory impact analysis] issued in 2007,” the Edgeworth report concluded. “We find that, in every instance, FMCSA’s new methodologies and assumptions increase the apparent net benefits of the proposed rule. However, many of FMCSA’s new approaches rely on misapplication of available data, use outdated information, or lack empirical support entirely.”
Other notable findings of the Edgeworth study include:
• FMCSA made unreasonable assumptions about the safety of the trucking industry by sampling only carriers it subjected to a compliance review, generally for not following federal safety rules;
• In formulating its proposal, FMCSA used crash data collected before the current rules went into effect, completely ignoring their positive safety impact on the industry.
“Edgeworth’s analysis pretty clearly shows that FMCSA’s proposal isn’t rooted in sound science, good data or logic, and can’t stand up to scrutiny,” American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves said.
GAO: FMCSA Should Study Driver Wait Time
Without more data on the extent detention time contributes to hours-of-service violations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may lack key information to reduce these offenses.
That was the conclusion of a Feb. 18 Government Accountability Office report, based on more than 300 trucker interviews, talking to stakeholders and research. The agency is in the initial planning stages of detention studies, the GAO said.
U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) on Feb. 17 introduced H.R. 756, which directs the U.S. Department of Transportation to research trucker wait time and report results within a year of the bill’s passage. It was referred to committee without co-sponsors.
The DOT would issue a rulemaking within a year of that report on maximum hours drivers can be detained without compensation and set penalties for violations.
In that rule, the agency is to consider correlations between detention time and HOS violations and establish procedures for reporting violations, including electronic on-board recorder data.
Wait time costs are “largely born by truckers,” the report states. About 4 percent of drivers said they misrepresented hours in their log books and kept multiple log books to disguise incidents of violation of HOS due to detention time.
Drivers interviewed said detention fees to the shippers are usually for waiting more than two hours at the facility. The fee is based on the specific contract, but fees mentioned were $40-80 per hour.
Some carrier officials said not all carriers collect, even if in the contract, for fear of alienating customers. Also, shippers and carriers can disagree on the amount of time, so collecting can be challenging. For example, during one 90-day period, one carrier billed more than $4,300 in detention time fees but received less than $500.
The FMCSA needs solid wait time data, and plans studies addressing driver fatigue, compensation and detention. The fatigue study is set for July, but details on scope and methodology are not final, according to the GAO.
Agency officials have requested funding for wait time research, which they said would also identify possible regulation changes that would reduce driver wait time.
The GAO suggested the FMCSA use a study-specific data collection form to collect wait time data, similar to the methodology used in an unpublished Federal Highways Administration study on HOS violations’ relation to load origin.
That study indicated drivers are almost twice as likely to have an HOS violation if the load originated with a broker.
U.S., Mexico Agree on Trucking Plan
U.S. and Mexican officials have reached a cross-border trucking agreement that would allow Mexican trucks into the U.S. and require Mexico to phase out retaliatory tariffs, President Obama announced March 3.
Obama said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Ambassador Ron Kirk have reached consensus with their Mexican counterparts. Mexican President Felipe Calderón said retaliatory tariffs, estimated at $2.4 billion, will be lifted in phases.
Calderón said 50 percent of the tariffs will be ended when the agreement is signed. The remaining 50 percent will be dropped when the first Mexican truck is authorized under the new program.
In return, Mexican truckers must comply with U.S. safety and environmental regulations. The U.S. Department of Transportation will monitor driver skills, safety and language tests for Mexican truckers who intend to drive in the U.S.
Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, U.S. and Mexico are required to allow trucks access to the other country’s highways.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association expressed outrage at the announcement. “Simply unbelievable,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA. “For all the president’s talk of helping small businesses survive, his administration is sure doing their best to destroy small trucking companies and the drivers they employ.”
The American Trucking Associations supports the agreement. “When properly implemented, NAFTA’s trucking provisions should evolve to allow for a more efficient, safe and secure environment for cross-border operations between the U.S. and Mexico,” ATA President Bill Graves said.
In his fiscal 2012 budget request, Obama earmarked $50.4 million to “support cross-border inspections and the Mexican long-haul program,” which includes $5 million to begin multi-year improvement of U.S.-Mexico border inspection facilities. The House highways subcommittee pledged Jan. 23 to monitor the program to ensure truck safety and protect U.S. jobs.
FYI NEWS BRIEFS
NAFTA Surface Trade Slips in December
Surface transportation trade between the United States and Canada and Mexico rose 13.8 percent in December over December 2009 to $66.5 billion, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation. BTS reported the value of U.S. surface transportation trade with North American Free Trade Agreement countries Canada and Mexico fell 2.2 percent in December from November.
Tonnage Up in January
The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 3.8 percent in January after rising a revised 2.5 percent in December. The latest jump put the adjusted index at 117.1 in January, which was the highest level since January 2008. In December, the adjusted index equaled 112.7.
Pilot Opens New Facility
Pilot has opened a travel center in Weed, Calif., off of Interstate 5 at exit 745. The center has eight diesel islands with high-speed fuel pumps, a Subway restaurant, pay phones, fax and copy services, Western Union, check cashing service, lottery tickets, an arcade area and general merchandise for drivers.
Record Used Truck Registrations
Used commercial vehicle registrations covering Class 3-8 in the U.S. increased 21.7 percent in 2010 over 2009 to a record level of approximately 672,000 units registered, according to Polk. Used commercial vehicle registrations accounted for nearly 65 percent of the total commercial vehicle market (new and used) in 2010.
Class 8 Orders Dip in February
Class 8 truck net orders for North American markets totaled 24,300 units in February, down 3,000 from January, according to ACT Research Co. Even though the February order volume declined, the Class 8 market remains strong, ACT said. It placed the annualized total at more than 272,200 units. Preliminary net order numbers are subject to revision.
Joplin 44 Showroom Grand Opening
Joplin 44 Petro in Joplin, Mo., will celebrate the grand opening of its Super Truck Showroom and remodeled truck stop May 20-21. The event will have exhibits, an antique truck show, a Super Truck Beauty contest, live entertainment, fireworks and a ribbon cutting ceremony. Petro added a 23,000-square-foot expansion and 15,000-square-foot showroom, which will house two customized trucks on turntable displays and truck accessories
Four Mack Dealerships Open in Alaska
Four full-service Mack dealerships have opened in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Ketchikan at Construction Machinery Industrial’s locations, the Alaskan construction equipment dealer announced. The dealer will offer Mack sales, parts and service at the locations, tailoring to mining operations, civil contractors and other construction industries served by the company.
Fontaine to Give Away Flatbed
Fontaine Trailer will give away a new Revolution 52 aluminum flatbed trailer Labor Day weekend. The company’s new Revolution line consists of all-aluminum combination and dropdeck trailer models. To enter the giveaway, visit fontainetrailer.com
Antique Truck Show Sets Date
The 21st annual Antique Truck Show will be June 5, , at the Automatic Switch Company in Florham Park, N.J., the local chapter of the American Truck Historical Society announced. The show will feature antique large and small trucks, fire trucks and military vehicles. The show will be open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and a $5 donation is suggested.
In the March issue of Truckers News, Ryan Harter was identified as driving for the incorrect company in the Feedback section. The company should have been listed as T&T Farms. We apologize for the mistake and are happy to set the record straight.
Yellow Rose Chapter of Antique Truck Historical Society Truck Show, April 2, River Bend Park, Smithville, Texas, (830) 743-3179
75 Chrome Shop Annual Truck Show, April 8-10, Wildwood, Fla., www.75chromeshop.com, (866) 255-6206
Old Truck Show, April 15-16, ATHS Wheat State Chapter, Newell’s Truck Stop, Newton, Kan., (316) 283-0130
ATHS Northwest Antique Truck Show, April 23, Harold E. LeMay Marymount Museum, Spanaway, Wash., (360) 866-7716
ATHS Truck Show and BBQ, April 30, Central California Chapter, Kirkland Ranch, Plymouth, Calif., (916) 381-6036
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Charlie Daniels to Headline Charlotte Truck Show
Music legend Charlie Daniels will perform at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Friday night, Oct. 7, during the 2011 Charlotte Diesel Super Show.
Daniels first hit the charts in 1975 when his rebel anthems “Long Haired Country Boy” and “The South’s Gonna Do It” propelled his collection Fire on the Mountain to multi-platinum status. In 1979 Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” became a Platinum single, topping both country and pop charts. The song won a Grammy Award, earned three Country Music Association trophies and propelled Daniels’ Million Mile Reflections album to triple-platinum sales levels. Daniels is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and the Musicians Hall of Fame.
“Charlie Daniels is one of the most popular entertainers of our time,” says Alan K. Sims, vice president/executive director of events for Randall-Reilly, which produces the show. “We are delighted to have him entertain Charlotte Diesel Super Show attendees.”
The Charlie Daniels concert is free with purchase of a Charlotte Diesel Super Show ticket. Adult admission is $20 for a two-day pass; tickets for children ages 7 to 16 are $10 for two days. Children 6 and younger can attend for free. In addition to the concert, all events, exhibits and parking are included in the purchase price.
Held Friday and Saturday, October 7-8, at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C., the Charlotte Diesel Super Show offers live equipment and truck demonstrations, industry-related exhibits, ride and drives and activities for all ages. Other events include Truck Drag Races and the Custom Rigs Pride and Polish truck beauty contest. Additionally, there will be opportunities for drivers to do a test drive down the zMax Dragway.
Congress Repeats Truck Weight Bill
For the third consecutive year, Congress is considering a bill to allow states to increase interstate weight limits to 97,000 pounds for six-axle trucks.
On Feb. 17, Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) introduced the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act, or H.R. 763, which was referred to committee with one co-sponsor.
The bill text is not yet available via Congress’ online website. The Coalition for Transportation Productivity, a group of shippers and other associations supporting the increase, said some trading partners, including Canada and Mexico, use limits higher than the U.S. 80,000-pound limit set in 1982.
The current weight limit means even if trucks have additional unfilled space, shippers must pay for additional trucks, adding to road congestion and emissions.
The American Trucking Associations supports the measure, which the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposes because of safety concerns.
The two previous years, the SETA was referred to committee the day of introduction. In 2009, Michaud’s bill had 54 co-sponsors and last year, Republican Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo’s bill had three co-sponsors.
Cargo Theft Continues to Rise
FreightWatch International, a global logistics security solutions provider, reported on Feb. 21 that global cargo theft continues to plague supply chains, resulting in billions of dollars in direct losses, downstream costs and derailed efficiencies.
While a global problem, cargo theft trends vary widely from region to region, and having a clear understanding of these shifts is vital to a secured supply chain, according to FreightWatch.
“Supply chain professionals are fighting an uphill battle in almost every region of the world,” said Barry Conlon, FreightWatch chief executive officer. “Cargo criminals are actively targeting supply chains, stealing cargo in vast quantities and making huge profits on the black market. In order to develop a comprehensive security plan, industry professionals must first understand the complexities of the risks they face.”
FreightWatch reported in its annual Global Threat Assessment that the volume of cargo theft grew throughout the western hemisphere, with the United States, Mexico, Brazil and other South American countries reporting substantial increases in theft. By contrast in Europe, overall reporting of cargo theft rates was down, while the average value per loss rose sharply, most notably in the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
FreightWatch’s Global Threat Assessment looks at each region of the world and the countries considered major players in the world’s supply chain, analyzing cargo theft rates, criminal tactics, targeted goods and government efforts to curtail criminal activity.
Forecast: Capacity Shortfall into 2013
A combination of the trucking industry trying to catch up with the economic recovery and adapting to government regulations that are still being developed will extend a capacity shortage through 2013, a trucking economist said at an online seminar Feb. 10.
The shortfall will peak above 250,000 units in 2012 but continue at about 150,000 units in 2013, predicted Noel Perry, a senior consultant with FTR Associates and principal of Transportation Fundamentals. He said the industry is pursuing productivity increases through greater utilization of existing equipment, and miles per tractor were up more than 10 percent in 2010. Without that productivity improvement, “this crisis could be twice as bad, peaking at around 400,000 units,” he said.
Perry added that capacity utilization has recovered to above 90 percent, but rate increases haven’t kept pace. He said carriers are more productive and profitable, without increasing rates much. “From now on if a [carrier] wants to handle more freight, he is going to have to hire drivers and buy equipment,” he said.
Asked about the proposed hours of service changes and their impact on trucking, Perry predicted driving hours will be cut to 10 from 11. “We figure it’s going to cost the industry about 5 percent in productivity,” he said.
In response to a question, Perry projected that driver pay will increase by double digits in the second half of 2011 and continue “for at least another year.”
Perry forecast a 5 percent tonnage increase in 2011. He added that gross domestic product growth will be in the 3 percent range for the year, led by manufacturing and an improving retail market.