On July 1, when the new driver hours of service rules became effective, many shippers and probably some carriers breathed a sigh of relief. After 14 years of negotiation and litigation, finally everyone should know what the rules will be and can plan accordingly. When the U.S. Court of Appeals refused to block the implementation they strongly implied that even they were getting a little tired of hearing about the subject. Certainly the new rules are not popular with everyone. FTA Associates believes they will increase annual trucking costs by about 3% annually, and Schneider National already has experienced a 3% loss in productivity. Even so, the current provisions are now the law of the land.
But wait. Recently three members of Congress decided to make an end run around the courts and have introduced the True Safety Act. This legislation would roll the 34 hour re-start provisions back to the pre-July 1 rules until the General Accountability Office can confirm the FMCSA’s data and rationale. In fairness, the FMCSA is months overdue on a report on the issue which they promised. The American Trucking Associations supports the legislation since they have long believed there was insufficient information on which to base the changes.
I have the utmost respect for ATA, but believe it is time to accept the provisions for what they are and move ahead. Rather than searching for ways to change them, we should be concentrating on how to operate efficiently and economically within the new parameters. I don’t believe this an area in which Congress has a lot of expertise, and they really should stay out of it. Certainly, there are other important issues on which they could spend their time.
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