The American Trucking Associations on Wednesday continued to put pressure on regulators and Congress to modify federal work rules for commercial drivers, saying the rules represent an overreach that is hurting business while having little bearing on safety.
Changes to the hours-of-service rules issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration went into full effect July 1 and many long-haul carriers are reporting a loss in productivity that is forcing them to add some trucks and drivers to move the same amount of freight or risk losing customers.
“From the outset, ATA was confident the hours-of-service rule changes were based on politics, not data,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said in a statement. “Well, now we’re seeing mounting evidence that rather than solving anything, these rules are creating many problems for drivers and fleets alike.”
He was specifically referring to a survey and analysis released Monday by the American Transportation Research Institute, the ATA's research arm, that showed more than 80 percent of motor carriers have experienced a loss of productivity
in the past four months and an equal percentage of drivers say their quality of life has diminished.
Under the new rules, drivers must take a 30-minute rest break during their first eight hours behind the wheel each day, can only work 70 hours in a seven-day period (down from 82 hours) and must go off duty for at least 34 hours at the end of their work week. The "restart" period must include two periods that run from 1. a.m. to 5 a.m., which adds extra hours to the wait for drivers that go off-duty early on their last day.
Companies such as Schneider National, Bulldog Hiway Express and others have publicly indicated that their productivity has decreased.
"By now it should be clear that these rules were a mistake - everyone can see it," ATA Chairman Phil Byrd, president of South Carolina-based Bulldog Hiway Express, said. "FMCSA should listen to the facts and rollback this ill-advised rule."
ATA leaders called on Congress to pass the TRUE Safety Act
, a bill introduced by Reps. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., Tom Rice, R-S.C., and Michael Michaud, D-Maine, to reinstate the 34-hour "restart" rule as it was prior to July 1 until the Government Accountability Office can complete a review.
"The True Safety Act will put the brakes on these rules until they can be thoroughly vetted," Graves said. "We're confident that once they are independently and objectively reviewed, FMCSA will have no choice but to undo what it has done."
(December's American Shipper
cover story, "Constricting Capacity," provides a deep look into how hours-of-service and other safety regulations could limit the amount of available trucks for shippers to move cargo.)