Washington, DC—NASSTRAC, an industry association that represents the interests of freight shippers in all modes of transportation, responded swiftly today to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) decision to revise the current hours of service rules for commercial truck drivers. The new rules retain the current 11-hour daily driving limit, but require truck drivers to take at least one half-hour break during eight hours. In addition, the weekly maximum a driver can drive is reduced from 82 hours down to 70 hours in a seven-day period. Full compliance is not required until July 1, 2013, in apparent recognition that time will be needed to adjust to these changes.
For years, NASSTRAC had called on FMCSA to maintain existing truck driver hours of service rules which effectively promoted safety without undermining trucking industry productivity and the shipper supply chains that support a strong U.S. economy, according to John Cutler, NASSTRAC’s legal counsel. Though the rules in effect between 2004 and 2011 have garnered strong support from both carriers and shippers, and have produced record reductions in highway crashes and fatalities involving large trucks, FMCSA’s new rules will adversely impact productivity for trucking companies and their shipper customers for little or no safety benefit, said Cutler.
“Though FMCSA preserved the 34-hour restart provision, these changes dramatically increase the disruptiveness of such rest periods by mandating that they take place between one o’clock and five o’clock in the morning,” said Cutler. “The effect is that down time due to restarts will increase significantly, and many drivers will start driving on Monday mornings, forcing thousands of trucks onto our roadways in rush hour and dramatically increasing traffic congestion.”
In adopting its changes, FMCSA ignored the overwhelming number of comments received from shipper organizations such as NASSTRAC, carrier organizations like the American Trucking Associations, and individual shippers and drivers. In addition, FMCSA ignored its own CSA program and motor carrier and shipper safety programs, all of which are certain to improve highway safety without reducing drivers’ hours and pay. Oddly, DOT just announced rules to reduce fatigue among airline pilots which exclude pilots of all-cargo aircraft.
In recent months, more than 100 members of Congress, including top leaders, have written FMCSA requesting that existing hours of service rules be preserved, according to Mike Regan, chairman of NASSTRAC’s advocacy committee. “Safety continues to be a key concern for the trucking industry and for groups like NASSTRAC,” said Regan. “While we need to fully embrace the need for safety on our roads, it’s also imperative that the DOT, FMCSA, and our elected officials understand that that this new rule will have a negative impact on truck productivity and corporate supply chains. In fact, logic dictates that these rules will negatively impact productivity for trucking companies and their shipper customers, and will likely increase congestion on our roadways.”
The new hours of service rules and productivity concerns will be of primary focus during the “Stand Up For Trucking” fly-in, scheduled for Feb. 1 in Washington, D.C. NASSTRAC and more than 12 other associations are supporting this historic, industry-wide fly-in. For more information on how this fly-in will be a way to voice concerns over these new rules and other productivity issues with members of Congress, visit www.StandUpForTrucking.org.
The National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council (NASSTRAC) provides education, advocacy, provider relations, and networking for professionals involved in all modes of transportation, ranging from full truckload and LTL to containerization and global logistics. For more information, visit www.NASSTRAC.org.