Critics Take Aim at FMCSA’s Proposed HOS Changes
Washington D.C. – Many of the most powerful trucking industry groups have publicly expressed support for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) recently unveiled changes to the hours of service (HOS) rule, but opposition to the reform plan is strong and could grow stronger in the coming months.
Trucking industry stakeholders including the American Trucking Associations (ATA), Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) were quick to cheer the FMCSA’s proposed HOS reforms after the agency revealed them on Wednesday, August 14.
Statements from each group praised FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez’s leadership on the issue and encouraged its members to comment in support of the proposal during the 45-day public comment period.
However, opposition to the plan is also mobilizing.
The Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) is one such critic and says FMCSA’s new proposal will “drastically weaken the HOS rules.”
The group, comprised of truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, released a detailed statement shortly after the proposal’s announcement.
In it, the TSC said the reforms “will not improve safety.”
The agency is offering flexibility without regard for the fact that it could be exploited by the worst actors in the industry, including drivers who will operate while fatigued and motor carriers who will coerce them to do so.
Another critic, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, was also quick to express its “serious concerns” about the proposed changes.
Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said:
In an effort to increase so-called ‘flexibility’ for trucking companies, the FMCSA is abandoning safety and allowing drivers to push themselves to the limit even further.
Changes for short-haul truckers, for example, would extend their days from 12 to 14 hours on the job.
That means a longer and more exhausting workday for tens of thousands of American workers.
Hoffa also expressed dismay about “language changing the 30-minute rest break and the ability of drivers to press the pause button on their hours of service clock.”
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Further, he asserted that should the proposed changes make it into a final rule, it will only benefit those at the top.
We shouldn’t be sacrificing the health and safety of drivers just to pad the profits of their big business bosses.
The TSC and Teamsters are not alone in their opposition.
Sources Transportation Nation Network (TNN) has spoken with since the announcement indicate the FMCSA is expected to receive significant push back by leaders in the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives as well.
Additionally, experts tell TNN court challenges are likely.
Joe Rajkovacz, Director of Governmental Affairs & Communications, with the Western States Trucking Association, is quite familiar with these kinds of battles given the fact he is from California.
Rajkovacz spent 29 years as a professional trucker before devoting his full-time career to the trucking associational trade.
He is a supporter of the new proposal and is optimistic about its chances to be enacted.
“I think there is an excellent chance what is being proposed will become a final rule,” he said. “There may be some tweaks, but it’s likely it will make it.”
Find out what trucking stakeholders and drivers are saying about the FMCSA’s new HOS proposal HERE.
He said that while he understands there are those who “hoped the Agency would go further,” the fact the FMCSA didn’t eliminate the 30-minute break, as some trucking stakeholders wished, will make it more likely a final rule will win legal challenges.
“There were those who had pretty high expectations and wanted dramatic changes to the HOS rules, but the FMCSA would have had to have a hell of a lot of studies done to accomplish that,” he commented.
“Without relevant studies, the safety Nazis would have been able to sue in the D.C. Circuit and they would have won.”
Just as groups within the trucking community are urging its members to express support in the form of public comments, groups in opposition are doing the same.
Even further, the TSC is demanding the FMCSA “immediately rescind these proposed changes and focus their time, resources, and efforts on advancing proven safety solutions such as speed limiters and automatic emergency braking.”
This battle is only beginning to take shape.
TNN will continue to bring you the latest, so stay logged on to TransportationNation.com for much more in the coming days.
Photo: courtesy of PeopleNet
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