Schneider National would need to increase driver pay by about $3,000 per year "to keep commercial drivers whole from a W-2 perspective" if proposed changes in hours of service rules take effect, an executive at the transportation company said.
"That's probably appropriate anyway, with the market we're going into, and supply and demand being what it is," said Don Osterberg, senior vice president of safety, security and driver training at the nation's second largest truckload carrier.
"I think we're going to have to increase driver pay," Osterberg told a panel of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officials at a listening session Thursday on the impact of the agency's proposed trucker hours of service rule.
That pay increase would compensate drivers for lost mileage under the FMCSA's proposed HOS rules, which would cut at least an hour from a trucker's work day. Under the proposed rule, Schneider estimates its drivers would lose 24 miles a day.
Drivers calling into the listening session from the road were skeptical that they would see any benefits from the proposed rules, however, noting that they are not paid for time spent waiting for their trailer to be loaded or unloaded.
"I'm not driving, but I can't leave the vehicle and do whatever I want," one driver said. "And will the shipper let me park there if my 13 hours are up? I'd say not."
Green Bay, Wis.-based Schneider used a network optimization system developed with Princeton University in New Jersey to calculate the effect of the proposed hours of service changes on its diverse long-haul and short-haul trucking operations.
"Our baseline (daily mileage) is 501.7 miles," Osterberg said. "Under the proposal, that would be reduced to 478 miles. … We calculated the productivity impact of the proposed rule would be a negative 4.72 percent," he told the FMCSA panel.
Osterberg was one of the very few trucking industry speakers at the listening session with something good to say about the proposed HOS changes. "There are many things in the proposal that I like," he said, noting its emphasis on driver health.
However, "I can't say today the proposal would improve public safety," Osterberg said, though he added, "It certainly won't make it worse." But he told the FMCSA officials, "I don't think you can say it will improve public safety either."
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