Congress praised for including common sense HOS fix in Omnibus

Dec. 17, 2014

Following passage of Cromnibus last weekend, the American Trucking Associations thanked Congress--particularly Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine)--for the common sense fix to two unjustified provisions of the current hours-of-service restart rules in this year’s omnibus spending bill.

 “We have known since the beginning that the federal government did not properly evaluate the potential impacts of the changes it made in July 2013,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “Now, thanks to the hard work of Senator Collins and many others, we have a common sense solution. Suspending these restrictions until all the proper research can be done is a reasonable step. 

The Collins Amendment language, which was adopted by a strong bipartisan vote of the Senate Appropriations Committee, suspends the restriction on the use of the so-called 34-hour restart that requires drivers to take two consecutive periods of 1am to 5am off during the restart, thus pushing them into riskier daytime driving and then lifts the restriction on using the restart more than once every 168 hours, or one week.

“One of our members told us several of his drivers took four days off for the recent Thanksgiving holiday, yet when they returned to work, their hours were limited because that 96-hour break could not count as a 34-hour restart,” Graves said. “That’s just one of the impacts FMCSA failed to research that we hope they fully examine as a result of this congressional mandate.

“I truly want to thank Congress for including these provisions, and for listening to the industry’s very real safety concerns on the issue and not being swayed by base emotions. In debates about safety, it is often easy to make emotional, but misleading, claims about our industry and we’re pleased that those claims did not carry the day and our elected officials were won over by facts and evidence.

“The facts, in this case, show that the trucking industry is dedicated to safety. Facts that demonstrate our drivers are not overworked or pushed to extremes like our critics contend – the average driver works a little more than 50 hours per week and only 2% work more than 61 hours. There has been an increase in early hour driving by truckers--statistically the riskiest time of day and an unpopular outcome of this rule according to a national poll from Public Opinion Strategies. The fact is that under the previous rule, large truck-involved crashes fell 27% in a decade. These facts should be remembered not just by policymakers, but by trucking’s critics the next time they unfairly malign an industry that moves nearly 70% of the nation’s freight and does so with a commitment to safety that is second to none.”

ATA Chairman Duane Long, chairman of Longistics, Raleigh NC, said: “Fleets from around the country, including mine, tried to tell FMCSA that the previous rules were working just fine and that these new restart provisions were going to cause unintended problems. Those warnings went unheeded at the time, but we’re glad Senator Collins and others in Congress listened to us and that we’ll finally get a full examination of the potential impacts of these rules. We call on President Obama to quickly sign this omnibus spending bill, which will immediately enact this suspension.”