Talk of the road: House bill to hold hours changes

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With new restart restrictions, the 34-hour restart, depending on what time of day you go off-duty, can take a lot longer than 34 hours. Find info about a handy interactive calculator via this story.With new restart restrictions, the 34-hour restart, depending on what time of day you go off-duty, can take a lot longer than 34 hours. Find info about a handy interactive calculator via this story.

M. Rick Richards asked the million-dollar question, responding to the news of the draft House bill (H.R. 3413, or the TRUE Safety Act) from Rep. Richard Hanna’s office that would put a moratorium on restart changes until the FMCSA completes the highway-bill-mandated real-world study on economic impacts. “Are they just pandering to us, and they know it won’t get passed?” Richards wrote on Overdrive‘s Facebook page last week Thursday when news of the bill’s creation began making the rounds. 

He may well have a point. The standalone bill’s introduction isn’t the first time such a moratorium was attempted by Hanna and others to be put in place pending study results — that July effort to defund enforcement of new rule provisions failed before it really got under way. This one, however, has been introduced and referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee by Hanna with two cosponsors from both parties. 

For supporters of the effort — you can read more about this bill, including its language, via this story — the time is now to make support known to members of Congress. That’s just what Jason Haggard was doing as news was emerging about the new bill. “I literally just got off the phone with the offices of Hanna and also Michele Bachmann from here in Minnesota,” Haggard wrote on Facebook. Shortly following the July 1 effective date of the new hours provisions, Haggard presented Bachmann’s office with a petition Overdrive reported on here, signed by hundreds of drivers, that asks “for the same thing that this bill is asking for,” Haggard continued. “They wouldn’t respond to it.”

Now, at least, he added, “Hanna’s staff knows that Bachmann has it in her possession, so hopefully they will acquire a copy from her to use in their fight.”

Voices on the July hours changes have been many — for bill supporters, key to convincing lawmakers to sign on to the effort may well be showing the economic impact of the new rule, which several owner-operators responding to this post on the Channel 19 blog several weeks ago did. Below, find a round-up of responses. 

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And as owner-operator Karen Moore noted in commentary following the Oct. 11-13 Ride for the Constitution effort, ” If every trucker and owner-operator in the country would do nothing more than pick up the phone and call their senator or congressperson once a month, you would see things change.” Moore shared the Capitol Switchboard phone number: (202) 224-3121. “Ask for your congressperson or your senator or any other representative,” she added. “The switchboard will plug you right in with a live person who will listen and make a record of your opinion and pass it on to your representative. It works!” 

More Voices on the hours changes
Gordon Alkire: Contact your legislators and tell them how it affects you and give them an alternate idea on how to fix it. I used to work closely with a congressman. If he gets people calling in about a bill, and two are for it and one against it, he votes for it. No congressman is smart enough to know everything about everything. His advisers are not truckers. Call or write them, but contact them and tell them how this affects you and how to make sensible changes.


Brad Lambert: Personally, I have seen a direct hit to my income, this includes both the truck income as well as my personal income. Based on the last three years, on average this year I have seen a $750-$1,000 decrease in weekly income to the truck. I pay myself a per-mile rate and on average my income has decreased $100-$250 on a weekly basis. Basically, as a result of the new hours of service I am losing a load per week compared to what I was able to do prior to the updated hours.

Myron Lind: The rule change is somewhat inconvenient but has not had much impact on how I operate. I choose loads based on a variety of factors, hours available being just one of those factors. The 34-hour restart has been slightly more difficult to factor in than I originally anticipated. 

Commenting as roge160: The 34-hour restart change has cost me profit and home time as an owner-operator with my own customers. I need to take care of them if I want to keep them. So let’s challenge the rule makers to come out on the road with us for a month. They want to talk the talk, let’s see if they can walk the walk. We all know they can’t. I have two bunks in my truck, and I would be happy to show them what we live with every day.

Commenting as safetygirl: Where drivers really suffer is the two 1-5 a.m. [periods in the restart and the limitation of] one restart per week. Every customer wants their delivery before workers show up. We had to hire a couple more drivers per terminal to make up for the early-morning loads that drivers could not take Monday morning. The drivers are actually off for the better part of three days per week. Consequently, they will have fewer hours on each paycheck. They make most of their year’s money on overtime through the three or four months of summer, so it’s not great for them. Drivers were better served by being able to spread more rest time over the five or seven days, working shorter days instead of trying to work 14 hours each day just to get the same amount of income.

Clinton Seals: The old rules worked just fine for us, and I feel they would work now but with some modifications with some simpler rules to follow, so they give discretionary powers back to the truckers and not the bureaucrats…. This seems to be all about them, not us, because I have been hearing nothing but frustration throughout the industry over this ruling. My proposal would be for a simpler rule, and yes it would hinder some of you but would at least give us that restart with an actual refreshed state of mind for service. Besides, that 34-hour rule really isn’t sufficient anyway in getting rest. I always found myself chasing my logbook for hours with the old ways without the restart and do feel that the restart method is a huge advantage to us. (Seals favors moving to a 15-hour on-duty window, preserving 11 maximum hours of driving and the 60 hours/7 days and 70 hours/8 days provisions, but adding more flexible sleeper splits as well as a full restart anytime a driver’s had 48 hours off.) 

Tell us your thoughts in the comments here. 

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