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The State of Things: Hours-of-Service

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DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of November 7, 2011
Foley Services Your Single Source for DOT Compliance

The Hours-of-Service debate has dominated the industry for the last few years. Where do the regulations stand and what is coming next?

Hours-of-Service; everyone in the industry has an opinion on it. The regulations governing the hours during which a driver can operate a CMV have been the focus of an intense debate that has been waged for the better part of the last ten years.

2011 has seen an intense burst of activity regarding a revised set of rules. Progress, however, has been halting and frustration on the matter — already high — has only grown. In this edition of Fast-Fax we are going to take a look at where the regulations are, where they are going and when we are likely to see meaningful progress.

The Current Regulations

Long-time readers may remember that the most recent rules were enacted in 2005. From the moment of their publication, the 2005 regulations caused a storm of controversy. Critics charged that the rules prevented drivers from taking naps during the day to rest up, thus making trucks more dangerous under the new rules.

The 2010 Proposed Regulations

A slew of lawsuits were fired back and forth over the 2005 regulations. A number of groups, including both OOIDA and ATA as well as non-industry safety advocates, demanded that the rules be changed. FMCSA responded with several proposals.

The most recent of these was released at the end of 2010. As every other proposed rule before it had been, it was immediately condemned by opponents and disappeared into a cycle of Request for Comments and reviews.

At the same time, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was being sued by advocacy groups. It was settled by the courts that new rules would be published by July 28, 2011.

When it became apparent that that date would not be reached, FMCSA and the advocacy groups agreed to delay the publication date to October 28, 2011. That date has come and gone with no publication.

New Rules Approach

This week, however, there is word that the latest versions of the rules have been passed from FMCSA to the White House Office of Management and Budget. OMB’s role is to review the rules for problems, budgetary concerns and practicality. Once OMB has reviewed and approved the rules, the proposal can be published in the Federal Register. OMB is not a ‘rubber stamp,’ however, it can and does reject rules; sending them back to the originating agency. The OMB process can take as long as 90 days.

Congressional Interference

That is the state of regulations from the Executive perspective. In addition to this, there is also interference from the Legislature. This adds an additional level of complication. Just this week, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R) of New Hampshire, attempted to introduce legislation to block the new Hours of Service rules from FMCSA. This was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada on the grounds that the rules don’t exist yet.

When Will We See Resolution?

It may be a long time. One of the key problems is that while there are a number of opponents to FMCSA, those opponents don’t necessarily agree with one another. If FMCSA releases rules that please the Trucking Industry, they are liable to be sued by safety advocates. If they release rules that please employers they are liable to be sued by driver’s unions. FMCSA has the unenviable task of creating rules that have to please everybody. On top of that, at any point in the process, Congress can change the rules of the game by issuing new restrictions and demands on to FMCSA.

For a little perspective, remember the 2005 rules replaced rules that were enacted in 1962. During that 43 year gap there were numerous attempts to change the rules. In the meantime, we can expect the latest proposal sometime in the next 3 months.

Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • www.FoleyServices.com • Vol. 111, No. 713 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011

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Marines First to Cut Tuition Assistance

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From Newsroom America
By Jon E. Dougherty at 19 Oct 19:33
Source: newsroomamerica.com/story/183508.html

(Newsroom America) -- The Marine Corps has become the first U.S. military branch to cut college tuition assistance to its members, and the cuts are substantial, according to newly released figures.

Military.com, quoting an official Marine Corps education document, said the branch will reduce tuition reimbursement rates from $250 per credit hour to $175 per hour for undergraduate courses. Rates will also fall to $225 per credit hour for graduate level courses, and the overall annual tuition assistance limit has been reduced from $4,500 to $3,500 per fiscal year.

The reductions are no doubt part of the Pentagon's overall strategy of reducing its budget as lawmakers seek to cut hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending over the coming years... Continue reading...

(c) 2011 Newsroom America.
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Wanted: 400,000 Truck Drivers

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Reported by: Marci Manley, KARK 4 News
Thursday, November 03 2011
Source: arkansasmatters.com/news-fulltext?nxd_id=478407

"I'm feeling pretty confident when I graduate I'll be ready to hit the road," he said standing in front of a big rig.

When the economy tanked, it cost Scott Harper his way of life.

"The company I worked for, a tire business, it shut down," he said. "It basically took a toll on us."

Now, he's on the way to getting a steady paycheck in an industry with high demand for those willing and ready to work.

"I've been hired by seven different companies, so I can just take my pick on who I want to go with," Harper said. "When you enroll in the Diesel Driving Academy they do a pre-hire application. Based on that, I already have a job when I leave here."

Joel Easley is a senior instructor at the Academy, and he said his students are in demand.

"There is a shortage of drivers. Drivers are needed.," he said.

"That's one of the major reasons I am this way, cause I knew there was a demand for drivers," Harper said.

Take a look at these numbers. Nationwide, approximately 400,000 truck driving positions are currently open.

In the Natural State, anywhere from 2,500 to 10,000 drivers need to be hired.

And your starting salary will be at least $35,000 a year.

"It's a good stable job that you can put food on your family's table and put a roof over your head," Easley said. "Even when the economy is in a crunch, trucks are still running. You'll see gasoline tanker trucks on the roads because this country is going to drive, and you're going to see refrigerated trucks because this country is going to eat. There's job security in that."

In a strapped economy, with thousands looking for a place on the payroll, a steady paycheck offers almost as much freedom as the open road.

Getting the certification can take several months, but there are programs from both employers and the state where you don't owe a dime in the end... Continue reading...

Source: arkansasmatters.com/news-fulltext?nxd_id=478407

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Werner Enterprises featured in Bloomberg article

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Allen Parker of Werner
Allen Parker, driver for Werner Enterprises, had to stop one delivery 15 miles short of the customer due to trucker work rules. Photo: Werner Enterprises
Werner Enterprises was recently featured in an Oct. 27 article, “Tired Truckers Versus Efficiency is Focus of Regulation Fight.”

The article, which appeared in the business wire conglomerate, Bloomberg, discussed the proposed Hours of Service (HOS) change by President Barack Obama’s administration who, according to the article, predicts the change will save billions of dollars in health-care costs, reduce accidents and add 39,000 jobs.

In the article, Derek Leathers, president and chief operating officer, and Steve Phillips, senior vice president of operations, dispute that.

Derek Leathers of Werner
“If we are continuously improving our accident rate as an industry, which we are, and fatalities are continuing to decrease, which they are, taking away this flexibility just doesn’t intuitively sound like a smart idea,” said Derek Leathers, president and CEO of Werner Enterprises. Photo: Werner Enterprises
Leathers said taking away flexibility isn’t a smart idea – given the industry has improved its accident rate and fatalities are continuing to decrease. Phillips said the Company expects the new HOS rule would mean a loss of between 3 and 5 percent in productivity and 5 to 7 million miles per year. Phillips also said the Company would have to purchase 50 to 60 new trucks and hire 120 drivers.

Allen Parker, a 24-year veteran of Werner Enterprises and a native of Fairbury, Neb., also was featured in the article. Parker experimented with the proposed change by driving 10 hours a day instead of 11 hours. He discussed the difficulties caused by the change – including stopping 15 miles short of a delivery, spending a half hour in a Wal-Mart parking lot because of a mandatory break, sleeping during the day, waking up at 2:30 a.m. to make deliveries and $5,700 in lost wages annually.

 

To read the full article, click here.

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FMCSA Misses Deadline, HOS Rule Delayed

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On Friday, October 28, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released the following statement regarding the publication of the Hours of Service regulations: “The petitioners have agreed to extend the October 28, 2011, deadline for publication of a final Hours of Service rule. FMCSA will continue to work toward publishing a final rule as quickly as possible. The parties to the settlement agreement will file their next status report with the Court on November 28, 2011.”

In a statement American Trucking Associations said it hopes the agency will “use the extra time to consider the overwhelming input it has received from thousands of drivers and law enforcement officers that the current rule is working. There’s no need to break something that’s not broken.”

For more information on the proposed hours-of-service change, visit SafeDriverHours.com.