Mailbag: Worm turns a bit on regs favor with hours proposal, readers sound off

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Updated Aug 18, 2019

In this week’s edition of Overdrive Radio, readers weigh in largely favorably on FMCSA’s this-week-proposed hours of service changes — and boy is that a departure from reactions to new regs over much of my near decade and a half around trucking.

At once, any of these changes have quite an interesting road ahead of them in the next year or however long it takes for the agency to push them through, though. So-called “safety advocates” are of course howling to mainstream news outlets. Stories are being spread far and wide with editorialized headlines like “Trump administration moves to relax rules on how long truckers can drive”…

You may have seen that one or some variant on it — the headline the L.A. Times put on the Associated Press story about the rules. It’s not a terrible story, all things considered, despite the headline, which suggests (incorrectly) that truckers are getting more drive time out of the rules.

At once, it does lead in part with what feels like the nut the way it’s presented: “highway safety groups have warned that putting the revisions into place would dangerously weaken the regulations.” Nothing particularly new in that point of view, I suppose, given such groups tend to oppose any change that doesn’t actually reduce the max driving limits. And of course the headline itself is just flat wrong, or at the least misleading, as it pertains to anyone using a logbook. The FMCSA isn’t proposing to change the underlying 11-hour drive time maximum.

Readers had plenty to say about it all in this week’s edition of the podcast. Take a listen:

Also: For all of you who hoped for more liberalized sleeper splits that what was proposed (a 7/3 split with both off-duty periods stopping the rolling 14), as we noted in the early-reactions round-up late Wednesday, FMCSA enforcement chief Joe DeLorenzo noted during the Wednesday press conference that taking it further based on data and/or examples from individual drivers (which I recall he puts under the “data” bucket from past comments)… Taking splits further, he said, mightn’t be totally out of the cards the agency could play, depending on what else they learn during the 45-day comment period set to open Monday.

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Gotta wonder, though – anybody remember that long-awaited split sleeper study they cancelled late last year after putting hours reform on the fast track? That study was set to gauge the safety feasibility of 5/5 and 6/4 splits, in addition to the 7/3 now proposed to be allowed. Missed opportunity there, perhaps.

Or, the cynics will say, head-in-the-sand encouragement of data blind spots. …

Is there a way to get that back on the front burner?