The Impacts of DOT's Commercial Driver Hours of Service Regulations
Chairman Thomas E. Petri (R-WI)
Subcommittee on Highways and Transit
Hearing on “The Impacts of DOT’s Commercial Driver Hours of Service Regulations”
June 18, 2013
(Remarks as Prepared)
Today’s hearing will focus on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (U.S. DOT) commercial driver hours of service regulations. On July 1st, property-carrying commercial drivers will be required to meet new hours of service regulations that will have significant impacts on a large segment of the trucking industry.
Truck drivers will be required to take a 30 minute rest break every 8 hours and will be able to restart their hours of service clock only once a week by not driving for a 34 hour stretch that includes two 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. periods.
FMCSA promulgated these new regulations in December 2011 with the intent to promote safety and to protect the health of drivers. By allowing drivers ample opportunity to get the proper amount of rest, the regulations are intended to help reduce crashes by reducing driver fatigue. Finding the right balance between providing drivers the opportunity to rest and the flexibility to account for unanticipated delays during the workday has been a challenge.
Since Congress directed the Department of Transportation to issue a rulemaking on commercial driver hours of service in 1995, the regulations have been in constant litigation which has led to confusion among the trucking industry and enforcement community. Every stakeholder that is impacted by hours of service regulations has passionate beliefs on the correct way to implement them, so it’s no wonder that litigation has persisted.
The regulations that take effect on July 1 are currently being deliberated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The real world implications of these new regulations are difficult to predict because of the diverse nature of the trucking industry. I’m receptive to the concerns of many of my constituents who argue that a one size fits all approach won’t provide the flexibility some companies need to take the appropriate rest breaks. For example, I have been asked, if a driver is resting in a chair while waiting for a load to be unloaded or for some other reason and is technically on-duty but undisturbed for 30 minutes, why can’t such a break be counted toward the 30 minute break requirement? Some specific trucking operations, such as oil field equipment operators, have a special exemption from some provisions of the hours of service regulations, but why not others with similar operating characteristics?
We most frequently hear concerns where driving is just one small part of the overall job responsibilities, and not the long-haul drivers who are away from home for several days at a time. For instance, I have heard from hundreds of drivers in Wisconsin who transport materials and equipment for highway construction who drive only 2 or 3 hours during a work day, but seemingly will be very much affected. Not only will the drivers themselves be impacted, but how our highway projects are completed will be affected as well. We will hear more about these specific concerns from one of our witnesses today.
I hope that today’s discussion will focus attention on these issues and potentially lead to proposals that allow drivers to efficiently complete their jobs without compromising safety.
I am sure that safety is the primary goal of all of today’s witnesses. Effective commercial driver hours of service regulations will help reduce fatigue-related truck crashes and save lives on our nation’s highways. I hope today’s hearing will provide our Committee Members with insight into this important national safety issue.
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Hon. Anne Ferro, Administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration | Written Testimony
Mr. Mark Savage, President, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance | Written Testimony
Ms. Joan Claybrook, Consumer Co-Chair, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety | Written Testimony
Mr. Steve Williams, Chairman & CEO, Maverick USA, Inc.; on behalf of the American Trucking Associations | Written Testimony
Mr. Edward Stocklin, President, Stocklin Trucking LLC; on behalf of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association | Written Testimony
Mr. Jeffrey Dean Hinkle, Transportation Manager, Chandler Concrete Company, Inc.; on behalf of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association | Written Testimony