No Common Ground on New HOS Proposal
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced it will host a Feb. 17 "public listening session" to hear comments and "relevant new research" it should consider in a final hours of service rule. Trucking and shipping interests are firmly against the FMCSA proposal, however.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will host a Feb. 17 "public listening session" in Arlington, Va., and an online comment and question session the same day to hear comments and "relevant new research" it should consider in a final hours of service rule. Among other things, FMCSA said it is seeking additional studies or data on fatigue and safety differences between driving in the 10th and 11th hours.
From trucking and shipping interests, the input is likely to be determined opposition to the agency's proposed rule, which was published Dec. 29, 2010. They've already signaled firm opposition to it. Bill Graves, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, sent a letter Jan. 19 urging President Obama to tell DOT to halt the rule. Graves wrote that the proposed rule is the kind that should be eliminated, given the president's call the previous day to ensure federal regulations are sensible and allow economic growth. "Mr. President, FMCSA's Dec. 29, 2010, proposed changes to the HOS rule are, using your words, "just plain dumb" and "not worth the cost" of making "our economy less competitive," Graves wrote. ATA maintains the existing HOS rule, enacted in 2004, has worked well, and trucking has achieved historic lows in fatalities, injuries, and property damage crashes since then.
Similarly, the Hours of Service Coalition -- a group that includes ATA, along with trucking companies and construction, agriculture, manufacturing, and distribution trade groups, sent a letter Jan. 20 asking U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders to hold a hearing about the proposed rule before its comment period closes Feb. 28. This letter questions FMCSA's analysis of costs and benefits for its proposal and says the changes would be a significant challenge for law enforcement. "Because the proposed rules are complex and restrictive, motor carriers will have difficulty understanding them and enforcement officers will have difficulty accurately identifying violations," it says. "For instance, in order to determine if a driver can legally claim to have met the conditions of a weekly rest provision, the enforcement official would have to ensure that at least 168 hours had elapsed since the beginning of the most recent weekly rest period and that the break included two consecutive nighttime periods between midnight and 6 a.m. Such complexity will only serve to hamper both industry compliance and motor carrier enforcement."
FMCSA said its listening session at the Crowne Plaza Washington National Airport will begin at 10 a.m. and end by 5 p.m. EST. The online session (visit http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/topics/hos/HOS-Listening-Sessions.aspx for information on how to participate) will last from noon to midnight EST.