Trucking Groups Make Final Push for More Split Sleeper Berth “Flexibility”
Washington D.C. – The public comment period regarding the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) proposal on hours of service (HOS) regulations will soon be closing and trucking groups are urging members to make their voices heard.
FMCSA’s much anticipated HOS proposal was published in August, and after one extension of the comment period was granted, the chance to weigh in will end at 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, October 21.
As of this writing, nearly 2,200 comments have been submitted.
In the last week, trucking groups such as the Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA) and TruckerNation urged members to sound off before it is too late.
On October 15, OOIDA submitted 15 pages of comments.
OOIDA implored the FMCSA to go further than the current proposal on the split sleeper berth option of 7/3, in addition to current splits of 10/0 and 8/2.
Todd Spencer, OOIDA President and CEO, wrote: “FMCSA should also include 6/4 and 5/5 splits in any final rulemaking.”
Spencer contends, if such splits were to be enacted, it would effectively “increase both (driver) safety and health and wellness.”
The group says a recent survey conducted by the OOIDA Foundation found that 85% of OOIDA members favored a possible 6/4 or 5/5 split.
TruckerNation, a trucking group focusing on driver education and advocacy, would also like to see the FMCSA go further with regard to the split sleeper berth proposal.
In a recent Facebook LIVE, Andrea Marks, TruckerNation’s Director of Communications, said the group is “hoping for” a 6/4 split to be included in the final rule.
“We’d like to see that change,” she said.
Both groups have expressed optimism that such a change would also help alleviate the truck parking shortage as well.
Most Trucking Groups Remaining “Positive”
Even without the inclusion of such a change in the final rule, OOIDA and TruckerNation, along with other groups such as the American Trucking Associations (ATA), Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), and National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC) supports the FMCSA’s latest proposal to provide greater “flexibility.”
David Owen, President of NASTC, recently expressed his belief that the Agency displayed “common sense” and creativity in how it balanced the concerns of safety advocates and truckers’ need for flexibility.
He pointed specifically to how the FMCSA’s proposal treats the 30-minute break.
By allowing truckers to log the required break as on-duty, not driving, instead of requiring drivers to go off-duty, Owen sees it as a “positive” step.
“Putting Lipstick On A Pig”
With so much praise being heaped onto the FMCSA for daring to undertake a desperately needed rulemaking on HOS, it might be easy to overlook those in trucking who oppose the Agency’s new proposed changes.
One group continuing to speak out against the proposal is the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC).
President of the SBTC, James Lamb, recently told Transportation Nation Network (TNN), “This new proposed rule now allows mega carriers to make you work longer, without extra pay and invites more detention time. We understand why the ATA would like you on a 17 hour day.”
Lamb says the SBTC wants to see the FMCSA go much further.
“The SBTC has been calling for the elimination of the 14 hour rule outright. Anything less is unacceptable,” Lamb said.
“Everyone knows the pay by the mile but regulate by the clock model is the real problem. By not addressing the ugly root cause of the problem, all of these initiatives are merely putting lipstick on a pig,” Lamb added.
Does Your Comment Matter?
Truckers often lament they don’t feel as if their voices are heard by those that make the rules.
It’s a common refrain to hear drivers express their skepticism that even if they submit a comment, it won’t really matter in the end.
Consider Andrea Marks an optimist.
She believes a single comment could make a big difference.
“One well-written, justified comment that’s legit and backed up with data can outweigh every other comment during the comment period,” she recently stated on Facebook LIVE.
“It might feel like you are just one person or your comment is just one comment… well, it can be the one comment that makes change. I’ve seen it happen.”
You still have time to comment HERE.
For last minute tips from OOIDA on how to comment like a pro, click HERE.
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