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FMCSA Hours of Service Listening Session Review


FMCSA HOS Listening Sesion 2/17/11

On Thursday, February 17, 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) held a public listening session in Arlington, VA on its regulatory proposal that would revise hours-of-service (HOS) requirements for commercial truck drivers.

The Highway and Auto Safety Group had sued the FMCSA over the Hours of Service rules, basically stating that 11 hours of continuous driving is a highway safety hazard and  should be replaced with 8 hrs.  Their reason, they say, is that the extra hours of driving leads to truck driver fatigue and thus an increased risk for fatal accidents. The Truck Safety Coalition also agrees with this.

The part of that statement which they don’t include is that 80% of fatal truck accidents are actually due to the other “non commercial vehicle involved.”

Although truck driver fatigue represents approximately 5% cause of the fatal truck accidents which are the fault of the commercial vehicle, their reasons for truck driver fatigue are not defined. It appears that the Highway and Safety group has taken it upon themselves to determine what the cause of truck driver fatigue is, assuming HOS ( hours of service) is the culprit.


Estimates of 41,000 to 45,000 traffic deaths occur every year within the U.S.
Walkers and bikers account for 15% of the total traffic deaths each year.
Fewer than 9% of those deaths involve commercial vehicles.
More than 80% of those accidents are the fault of the non-commercial driver.
Of those death related accidents only 4% of trucks are fatigue related. Drinking related accounted for .06% of those accidents.

As  drivers all know, truck driver fatigue is a product of:

  • driver lifestyle
  • shippers and receivers not keeping appointments times
  • dispatchers pushing drivers even when they state they are tired
  •  Qualcomms waking drivers up during their sleep period
  •  20 year old problem of lack of truck parking which causes drivers to continue driving when they are tired in order to find safe parking.

During Thursday’s hearing, Henry Jasney, general counsel of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, stated that at least the Supreme Court allows him 15 minutes to make his statements and comments ( instead of the 5 minutes allowed during the FMCSA hearings)
Anne Ferro, Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, quickly responded by saying that if he promised not to sue them anymore she would allow him an additional 10 minutes to speak. The comment needless to say was met with much humor.

As stated from the FMCSA website, The goal of the listening session is to gather a broad range of comments, ideas and relevant data as the agency analyzes responses to its HOS regulatory proposal issued on December 29, 2010.
Hours-of-service requirements are designed to help prevent commercial vehicle-related accidents, injuries and fatalities by prescribing the number of on-duty hours and rest periods for commercial drivers.

Many people within the industry spoke during the hearings including company VP’s of Safety, Todd Spencer of OOIDA, company drivers, owner operators, and Motor Truck Association Reps, all stating their reasons why the new HOS proposal would be detrimental to both driver safety and the industry in general.

Reasons against the HOS included:
1 Would cause more driver stress by not finishing on time
2 HOS is not the major reason for truck driver fatigue
3 Lack of flexibility for the driver to arrange his day
4 Not taking into account shippers and receivers role for driver waiting time
5  Need to put more trucks on road causing greater highway safety risk
6  Would make it even more difficult than it is now to find parking spaces
7 Decrease Productivity

Among those who attended the hearing was Richard Wilson with Trans Products and Services, a regulatory and compliance company offering safety and compliance assistance.  Richard was due to speak at the session in the 34th position, however, the session ended at speaker number 30.
Richard has since  been contacted by the FMCSA however, and asked to please submit his statement so it may be included in their review.

Had Richard Wilson been allowed to speak, this is what he would have stated as he sent the statement to us the day before.
(Richards comments were to also represent Truth About Trucking and AskTheTrucker)

FMCSA 2/17/2011 Listening Session regarding Hours of Service Proposal
Comments prepared by Richard Wilson, Regulatory Manager for Tran Services/ Trans Products

Good morning/Afternoon distinguished panel members, My name is Richard Wilson, I am the regulatory Manager and Compliance Consultant for Tran Services/ Trans Products. We represent Regulated motor carriers, from a small family owned company using equipment from 10001 lbs or combination to Large Fleets of Property carrying, private as well as for hire, to passenger carriers.
My comment about the proposed hours of service concern some of the issues that will cost my clients addition money, availability to operate efficiently, and be able to maintain compliance.

I am in a unique position as I see the whole broader view of operations and how this will effect their daily operations. Let me begin by addressing issues with the proposals as compared to the current rules.

1st. Reducing the 14 hour window to 13 hours, Reducing these hours with the exempting of time “Resting” by a couple of hours seems to be an attempt to complicate not address the issues of loading and unloading or any other time wasted that directly affects the efficiency of the drivers time and the Companies effectiveness to complete transportation requirements.

This is not really changing anything but just moving a line or two on a log. What have we gained or lost here to improve efficient safe transportation of goods, or transportation related services. Not every commercial vehicle is hauling freight for hire or generating revenue to pay for driver, equipment, expenses, or profitability to continue to operate. But these hours of Service rules cover all aspects of the regulated industry.

The 10 hour and 34 hour rule needs to be left intact as is. This is working, with our highways enjoying safer, reduced accident rates, changing the 34 hour rule complicates a simple restart that replaced the VERY Complicated recap procedure. Forcing a driver or company to choose what 34 hour restart they use in a 7 day period leaves many companies without the availability or flexibility to offer longer loads, or in a non Freight transportation service the availability to work at another job or move to other locations. Many commercial drivers who work at night will have to take up to 48 to 50+ hours to comply with the Midnight to 6am.

This is going to cost the carriers, drivers, and the General population additional cost and expenses to operate without improving safety. Just hindering companies to do their jobs and drivers to make a fair living without improving safety is wasteful and inefficient. Additional commercial vehicles on the road to fill in the gaps this will create, puts more dependency on foreign oil and increases the carbon footprint on our environment.

2nd. Now lets address the 14 and 16 hour rule regarding what a driver does when he or she reaches the 13, 14, 16, hour end of their day. It is not the business of the FMCSA to regulate what a person does when they are no longer driving. You regulate driving and When a person ceases to drive then your jurisdiction and whether they are in violation ceases.

The only thing continuing to work or finish whatever task they have, moves the 10 hour restart back the amount of hours they have before they can drive or continue to work. What a person does after they stop driving isn’t anybody’s business. Let me give some examples that may seem irrelevant and silly but are a concern since under CSA the FMCSA has already set fine structures at $2750 for drivers and $11,000 for carriers or other transportation regulated industries. Your regulation states “ANY compensated time” So drivers are supposed to finish tasks for free now or face fines? If Vacation is Compensated, do drivers have to take a 34 hour after coming off vacation to restart? Or do they have to take a 10 hour break to start? Next the FMCSA will be enforcing what a driver does in his or her living room, whether they are in violation because they are cutting their grass instead of “resting” or fine them for violating the 10 hour rule for driving the kids to football practice.

Owner operator, if they reach the 10/11 driving window and 14 to 16 hour combined and have to work on their truck, they have to cease or will be in violation. They have to wait 10 hours to do anything to the truck! If they work on their truck say on Saturday or Sunday, do they have to take a 34 hour restart?

If a person is at a dock, and loading or unloading has not completed, remember the rule does not take into account “resting” You have to cease any type of work. Certainly a shipper is going to let you pull out of the dock and come back the next day to finish, you going to start regulating Shippers?

If your working for a small company that is not hauling freight but using vehicles over the 10001 threshold and has to complete work at the yard like restocking service trucks or similar work. they cannot and have to start hours earlier and in the dark to do the tasks they could have fulfilled at the end of the day not before they start.

What if the company has trucks over the 10001 lb threshold to transport equipment and are a testing or monitor type operation that requires continuous operation that cannot be interrupted, that cannot predict how long it will take to complete the test? Since this rule would not allow them to complete this type operation just because of the chance the driver/technician may not be able to stop the test when it starts, shut this type of operation down?

At least now they have the opportunity to finish even if they have to go to a motel or call a cab. your removing that ability to finish period! Well if you like to buy gas and go some, where the testing procedures to keep Service stations in operation would not be practical and could cost the testing company $11,000 who are you going to get to do that, Federally Exempt Government agencies, and who is going to pay for those?

These are just a few examples there are as many examples of this being rather ridiculous as the safety groups can come up with reasons why they are not!

This agency’s agenda is to provide and consider the health and well being of the driver, that’s the big issue that granted the safety groups the lawsuits that started all this, and calls for change of an existing system that’s working.

What in this new proposal promotes safety as much as offering drivers the ability to pull over and take a break after 5 hours or so of driving without penalizing them. I finish my remarks with what I heard at most of the listening sessions, that was one of the most popular statements and I see never addressed, How about allowing driver to split sleeper berth times like the 5 on 5 off. This promotes safety and provides drivers with the ability to pull over and get rest, stop early in the morning if there is nowhere to park at the site they are delivering and not be penalized. Don’t penalize the drivers for knowing they are tired, encourage them to get off the road, Now that’s how to reduce highway and commercial motor carrier accidents, not complicating the current regulations to appease a few groups. Remember there are a lot more companies, drivers, and consumers affected by this than just the FOR HIRE TOP 100 motor carriers, don’t forget them in your consideration on this proposal!

Respectfully submitted :

Richard Wilson
Regulatory Manager Trans Products/Tran Services


© 2011, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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