Reaction from FMCSA's proposed HOS regulation hearing
On Thursday February 17th, a hearing was hosted by the FMCSA to allow the public an opportunity to give more feedback on the proposed Hours of Service regulations. The FMCSA has already pushed back the allotted time to comment on the proposal from February 28th to March 8th. The agency wants the public to have a say in the matter. While the hearing was very divided, drawing both staunch supporters and opposition, this opportunity for engagement is part of President Obama’s plan to get the public more involved in their government.
Most of the opposition represented at the hearing was associated with the American Trucking Association (ATA). They are very against the new HOS regulations because it would decrease truckers’ already limited hours. The FMCSA and its supporters argue that the hours need to be cut as a way to improve safety. They claim that fatigue causes between 7 and 20 percent of all crashes involving large trucks. The opposition fires back saying that the proposal is not based on sound research or data, contending that truck safety is the highest it has ever been and therefore hours do not need to be sacrificed to shoot for fewer accidents.
Dave Osiecki, Senior Vice President of the American Trucking Association, is really imploring the FMCSA to put facts and data, and not politics, first. He complimented the FMCSA and their past regulations for getting the trucking industry to where it is today in terms of safety. It is another part of his argument to get the proposal withdrawn. Osiecki and the ATA are trying their best to get the FMCSA to see things their way and not be swayed by politics or any other source other than the facts. The FMCSA is getting their facts from a study of 12-people conducted at an in-residence laboratory, released a few weeks before the agency’s proposal. The study recommended, “validation of the study findings . . . in a real-world field study,” Osiecki said. The economic and productivity cost of the proposal is estimated to be about $700 million. This loss will be offset by an increase in health benefits for drivers of the same amount in an attempt to increase sleep and overall health in truck drivers.
The FMCSA plans on taking the results of the hearing as well as any comments they receive online, then factoring them into the new proposal and whether or not it will be made into a bill. With the amount of opposition toward the plan it will be a while before real action is taken. The March 8th deadline for comments first has to pass in order for the FMCSA to take the next step.
We encourage all members of the trucking industry to share their thoughts on the proposed HOS regulations in our comments section here as a means to drive healthy conversation.