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Live From Washington! Real truckers give FMCSA an earful on HOS

WASHINGTON – Drivers and fleet managers who took time to tell FMCSA what they think of the government's new hours-of-service proposal appeared nearly unanimous in opposing the changes.

One after another, company drivers, owner-ops and carrier representatives who were present or called in to FMCSA's live "listening sessions" in Washington today told the agency that the current rules 'aint broke and don't need fixing.

Undoubtedly, comments from industry workers and other business groups were overwhelmingly against the proposal.

Now that they've heard from many drivers in person, it remains to be seen whether FMCSA officials will question claims by special interest groups like Public Citizen and the Teamsters that the new rule will improve drivers' lives.

If you're interested in getting an inside-the-beltway look at how the FMCSA and how they’re deciding on the new hours of service proposal click here.

Here's a sample of some comments the FMCSA is hearing today:

♦ "It will require more trucks to move the same amount of property as is currently being moved. If we put aside for the moment the obvious economic impact that a capital investment of this magnitude will have on small businesses and owner operators."

♦ "Consider the following scenario: A driver … arrives back at his terminal at the last moment of his 14 hour duty-day. At that point, the driver must go OFF DUTY. Therefore the driver can not perform a post-trip inspection on his vehicle as is required … since the time spent completing the inspection would be on duty time."

♦ "With less driving time available, and only one rather mangled restart per week available, more drivers will be forced to "wait out" off duty time away from home, family, and familiar surroundings."

♦ "How many of you (FMCSA officials) have ever driven with a driver to see what it is like. We don't sit behind a desk all day and try and make rules that will affect thousands of people. Government is the problem not the answer. More regulations will just raise the cost on goods."

♦ "As a private carrier, our employee’s primary function is not driving a vehicle. Our drivers may spend only 3 or 4 hours on-duty driving. While they do not drive beyond the 14th hour, in some cases, they continue to work in non-driving capacities. If I am interpreting the proposed HOS rule correctly, our employees would no longer be able to be on-duty not driving after 14 hrs, except for being able to extend that time to 16 hrs twice weekly."

We looked through the transcript for comments from drivers or fleet managers that approved of the changes, but were truly hard pressed to find any.

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I agree if it is not broken don't fix it but it needs fixing. The problem is when a driver is dispatched to deliver a load in the am and forced to drive nights on the next load, it affects the driver's circadian rhythm how can a dispatcher think that someone who sleeps nights every night can just switch over and stay up the following night, no one can change that fast -- think they forgot to include this in their proposed changes. Wife of a driver who has to sleep tomorrow in the daytime -- not happening but has to drive for 8-9 hours tomorrow night. sherrill.lower@yahoo.com