“Risk” of Drivers Being Forced to Work Longer Days Tops Concerns in H.O.S. Discussion
Washington D.C. – A wide range of trucking stakeholders and safety advocacy groups met on Tuesday with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regarding its newly proposed changes to the hours of service (HOS) regulations.
The Agency held the second of two listening sessions regarding the recently proposed reforms at the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C. on September 17.
Advocates of the new proposals expressed their belief that the recommended changes to HOS would provide additional flexibility for truck drivers and carriers.
“We believe the proposals in this rule will improve safety by offering the flexibility drivers need, so they do not feel like they are racing against the clock, needlessly driving through congestion, or hunting for safe parking,” FMCSA Deputy Administrator Alan Hanson said to open the session.
Most representatives of trucking groups in attendance echoed Hanson’s comments and were generally supportive.
However, driver coercion was a hot topic of conversation.
Bob Stanton with Truckers for a Cause expressed his concern about how the proposed changes may lead to carriers, shippers and receivers further abusing drivers’ time.
“The use of splits and pauses has to be firmly regulated that it is only at times and locations of the driver’s choice,” Stanton urged.
Andrea Marks, Director of Communications with TruckerNation, was also pointed in her comments on the issue.
“Our organization has remained steadfast since the beginning of this rulemaking process that coercion stands to be a significant risk if the Agency does not afford explicit driver protections in the final regulatory text,” she said. “Without language in the final regulatory text explicitly stating that the use of the proposed provisions are at the driver’s discretion, it leaves a wide open door for driver coercion.”
Marks asserted a poll of TruckerNation’s members revealed 80% admitted to experiencing coercion.
“It’s clear dishonest companies are still encouraging drivers to violate hours of service rules,” she stated.
FMCSA officials are quick to point out that the Agency only regulates truck drivers and carriers, not shippers and receivers.
Thus, officials contend adding specific text to the final regulations addressing driver coercion would not be effective for shippers and receivers.
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Even still, Agency officials signaled they would consider strengthening the language of the final rule in an effort to provide greater clarity for carriers and drivers.
Other trucking groups with representatives in attendance included: United States Cattlemen’s Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC), American Trucking Associations (ATA), Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA), American Road & Transportation Builders Association and United States Transportation Alliance (USTA).
Not every trucking group expressed support for the FMCSA’s proposal, however.
Laurence Socci, lobbyist and attorney for the SBTC, blasted the Agency’s proposed changes.
“This proposed rule allows the mega carriers to make all drivers work longer hours without extra pay and it invites more detention time,” Socci read from a prepared statement. “The proposed rule does not address the real safety problem that the truck driver faces – being paid by the mile and regulated by the clock.”
Socci then turned his attention directly to the regulators.
“Maybe if you all got out from your offices here in D.C. and spent some time on the road with a small company driver, you will finally understand that the regulations you establish here hurts drivers across America.”
Twenty-five year truck driving veteran Markcus Davis agreed.
Davis, who owns MTJ Transport in South Carolina, turned up the heat when he took to the microphone to voice his comments.
“I hear you talking about safety. I hear you talking about the 30-minute break, but we’re really not addressing the issue. Do you know what the issue is? The shipper and receiver keeping you all day long,” Davis hammered away.
Davis was just getting started.
He told the FMCSA leaders that trucking safety conditions are worsening since the electronic logging devices mandate became effective.
“Ask the truck drivers. They’ll tell you. I’m not talking about a study. I’m talking about facts. Forget these studies! Get in a truck with a driver and you’ll understand!”
The self-described “preacher” quickly captured the attention of attendees and claimed he was speaking on behalf of truckers.
“Let’s talk about pay. Do y’all know the condition of pay? What’s the average pay? Not enough, but y’all not addressing that! If you pay a driver right, guess what, he don’t have to break the law,” Davis asserted.
Trucker Makes “Jaw-Dropping” Admission
The most stunning moment came when Mike Landis, independent contractor and founder of the USTA, took to the microphone a second time, in an effort to rebut the claims of a safety advocate deeply opposed to providing additional flexibility to truck drivers.
Landis made a “jaw-dropping” admission.
Click HERE to find out what he said and why he chose to say it publicly.
WATCH the full 2-hour session on-demand HERE.
Comment Period Extended
The FMCSA has extended the public comment period on its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding hours of service rules until October 21, 2019.
It is unknown at this time if the Agency will be hosting any additional listening sessions on the matter.
The SBTC is urging the FMCSA to host a third and has requested the Agency schedule the session for next year’s Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY.
The Agency has come under some scrutiny over the issue after only providing less than a week’s notice of its first listening session last month at the Great American Trucking Show.
Stay logged on to TransportationNation.com for the latest in this developing story.