Life On The Road
Hours of Service: It’s always something
American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves asked Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters to push for a stay of the Court of Appeals ruling on Hours of Service regulations, stating that there was “no compelling safety reason” to eliminate the two provisions the Court had challenged.
On July 24, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated the 11-hour driving time provision and the 34-hour restart provision of the HOS regulations. The Court’s decision did not say the new rules were unsafe. It said the FMCSA did not follow procedures in approving the new rules.
“FMCSA can readily address the procedural flaws identified by the Court, and we believe that’s what they should do,” Graves said. Research and drivers’ accounts have shown that the Hours of Service that were enacted in 2005 and ruled on in July are safe.
The number of deaths from large truck-involved crashes declined by 4.7 percent in 2006, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That year was the first full year for which the 2005 Hours of Service regulations were in effect, and the decrease is the largest drop in 14 years.
“ATA asks that you and your staff work with FMCSA and Department of Justice to, first and foremost, file a timely motion with the Court requesting either a stay of the decision, or a remanded (to FMCSA) without the court vacating the 11-hour driving rule and the 34-hour restart provision. There is no compelling safety reason for these two elements of the rule to be vacated,” Graves said.
The 2005 HOS regulations should be reviewed in their totality, Graves said. While they allow one additional hour of driving time, they mandate two additional hours of rest. The reality is that trucking is as safe as ever operating under these new rules.
A study by the American Transportation Research Institute found that most drivers experienced less fatigue and preferred the 11 hours driving, 10 hours off, and 34-hour restart provisions.
“The hours of service to me are just fine,” says Patrick Kane, 44, of Miami, FL and a 12-year over-the-road veteran. “I’ve got no problem with them. You run 11 hours, you take 10 hours off. You basically take one day off a week if you want to rebuild your hours. Of course, it’s a 34-hour reset, but you can squeeze 10 hours from the day before and the day after. That’s fine with me.”
Marvin Stewart, 57, of Vinegrove, KY sees things a little differently. “I can’t sleep for 10 hours, and I don’t know too many people who can,” says the 25-year driving veteran. “Ten hours is too long. It’s wasting my time each morning when I could be driving.”
As always with HOS, stay tuned for further developments.