Hanna Subcommittee Exposes Adverse Economic and Safety Effects Of The FMCSA Trucker Operator Rule
Trucker: “While the HOS rules are intended to make our highways safer and more productive, the results of continued micro-management of drivers’ time has shown a very different outcome.”
The House Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce, under the chairmanship of Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), today held a hearing about the economic and operational impact of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) new Hours of Service (HOS) regulation on small businesses, particularly those in the commercial freight and transportation logistics industries.
During the summer, the FMCSA enacted new rules for HOS operations for commercial drivers that are resulting in significant operational and economic impacts to small businesses in the freight transportation and logistics industries. Among these changes are modifications to the 34-hour restart provision. While the 34-hour restart is intended to ensure truck operators are adequately rested before returning to duty, small business trucking firms report the provision has had the opposite effect, often forcing them to continue driving even when they are fatigued to stay on schedule. These firms also note that the rule may result in more highway crashes as the rules can compel drivers to operate more during peak traffic hours, where they are more likely to be involved in accidents with other vehicles.
“The vast majority of firms involved in highway freight transportation are small businesses, and this rule adversely affects most of them,” Chairman Hanna said. “In addition to underestimating the rule’s costs to small businesses, FMCSA may also be undermining its goal of improving safety. I’m extremely disappointed that FMCSA chose to move forward with the new rule before completing a required study of the impacts and efficacy. Safe highways are our goal. However, that can only be achieved with effective regulations based on accurate data. I continue to maintain that this rule should be delayed until an independent review is completed on its true impacts and usefulness. The No. 1 business of America is business. We need to stop holding ourselves back with ivory tower regulations that don't work in the real world."
The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which was signed into law in July of 2012, legally required the FMCSA to conduct a statistically-valid field study on the then-proposed 34-hour restart provisions that measured the effects of the proposed rule on both large and small trucking operators. This study was due to Congress by September 30, 2013, however, it has not yet been received. Rep. Hanna has introduced legislation, the TRUE Safety Act (HR 3413), that would reinstate the 2003 HOS Rule until the Government Accountability Office completes a study of the 2011 Final Rule methodology to determine its economic impact on industry and its safety efficacy.
Materials from the hearing are available on the Committee’s website HERE.
Duane Long, Chairman of Longistics in Research Triangle Park, NC, testifying on behalf of the American Trucking Association, said, “In general, the new rules are resulting in: Less productive trucking operations and lower company revenue, mainly as a result of longer off-duty restart periods by drivers; Fewer weekly miles by many drivers, and lower company revenue, as a result of working 5 days per week (in order to qualify to take the more restrictive, longer restart on the weekend); [and] Less take-home pay by some drivers, as a result of fewer weekly miles and/or work…”
Tilden Curl, Jr., Owner-Operator of Tecco Trucking in Olympia, WA, testifying on behalf of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) said, “While the HOS rules are intended to make our highways safer and more productive, the results of continued micro-management of drivers’ time has shown a very different outcome. Almost half of OOIDA members responding to our recent survey feel more fatigued following the changes, nearly 80 percent have seen impacts to their ability to schedule loads and home time, and nearly two thirds of respondents have lost income, with more than half driving fewer miles and fewer loads.”
Brian Evans, President-Owner of L & L Freight Services, Inc in Cabot, AR, testifying on behalf of the Transportation Intermediaries Association, said, “The FMCSA’s concerns about driver health and safety are to be applauded. The new HOS rules, however, fail to demonstrate that further restrictions will lead to any measurable decrease in crashes or injuries beyond that already being achieved with the previous measures. TIA supports the passage of H.R. 3413, the “TRUE Safety Act.” TIA urges the Agency to examine the negative effects of the 34-hour restart provision and consider amending the rule to give transportation the flexibility they need to ensure safety.”