Calls Proposed HOS Unacceptable
NASSTRAC Calls Proposed HOS Rules Unacceptable; Urges FMCSA to Maintain Current Rules
NASSTRAC urged the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on March 4, 2011, to preserve the current hours of service rules, which have significantly improved the trucking industry's safety performance. NASSTRAC submitted its comments on FMCSA's proposed changes to the rules jointly with The Health and Personal Care Logistics Conference.
In its filing, NASSTRAC stated that the proposed changes put forth by the FMCSA in December 2010 would have an extremely negative impact on over-the-road transportation and would severely cripple supply chain operations of its members. NASSTRAC's membership is comprised of shippers that rely on safe, reliable, efficient, and cost-effective over-the-road truck service. Some 80 percent of freight transported in the United States moves on trucks.
"Shippers and carriers alike feel that FMCSA should not adopt significant changes in rules that are working unless the benefits clearly and substantially outweigh the inevitable costs and burdens of further modifications of the rules," said John Cutler, NASSTRAC's legal counsel. "Clearly, that standard has not been met here." Cutler emphasized that NASSTRAC does not oppose efforts to improve safety on highways, but that the current rules have served both safety interests and economic interests very effectively.
NASSTRAC continues to support the current HOS rules that were adopted in 2003. These rules have effectively helped to reduce truck-related crash fatalities by 33 percent and truck-related crash injuries by 39 percent. "Highway travel overall is safer and the trucking industry's safety record has been particularly praiseworthy in recent years," said Cutler. "That being said, implementing the current rules has not come without costs and burdens for motor carriers and as well as shippers. If hours of service regulation is not done right, it will hurt the trucking industry, shipping customers, and the economy in general. Therefore, it's critical that the FMCSA avoid unnecessary, uncalled-for and unwise regulation."
NASSTRAC's filing addresses that, under the proposed rules, the trucking industry would need to secure 180,000 additional drivers and trucks just to maintain current service levels. "Today, freight volumes are up and the driver shortage is even worse than ever," said Cutler. The filing also underscores that the FMCSA has overstated projected benefits and that flaws exist in the agency's cost analysis. In fact, NASSTRAC supports the critique of errors of analysis and mathematics in the Feb. 15 review prepared for American Trucking Associations by Edgeworth Economics.
"By its own admission, FMCSA says the number of truck-related accidents is declining," said Cutler. "However, the agency says the rate is still highly unacceptable, yet admits that the source of the decline is unclear. FMCA also admits that it is not sure whether it should reduce maximum driving time to 10 hours (reduced by mandated breaks) or keep the limit at 11 hours (but mandate breaks). The reality is that other aspects of these proposed changes make them all unacceptable." Cutler suggests that these rules not only reduce productivity but they ignore FMCSA's own CSA and electronic onboard recorder (EOBR) programs, which should enhance safety without changing hours of service rules.
"FMCSA needs to understand that our shipper members and thousands of other manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and distributors rely on reliable, timely, safe, and cost-effective over-the-road transportation service," said Brian Everett, NASSTRAC's executive director. "That's why NASSTRAC and many others in the transportation industry are so concerned about excessive regulatory costs and burdens. Unfortunately, FMCSA seems to view the purpose of drivers as being to simply drive miles rather than to deliver raw materials to factories and finished goods to consumers. Indeed, the agency's thinking seems to be that truck drivers are like brick layers building walls. At the end of the day, if the job isn't finished, the brick layer can simply leave the wall partially finished and come back after a good night's sleep to pick up where the project was left off. Truck drivers cannot operate this way. It's critical that hours of service regulation address the realities of over-the-road trucking and the needs of the marketplace."
Click here to view the filing: