Heavy Duty Trucking

SEP 2014

The Fleet Business Authority

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14 HDT • SEPTEMBER 2014 www.truckinginfo.com "In an economic system that continues to try to drive the last penny out of the supply chain, transportation and trucking in particular gets squeezed the hardest because it has the least leverage," she said. The trucking industry is fragmented and highly competitive, with a large group of small business op- erators — "A David facing the Goliath of supply chain shippers." "That tension will always bump up against an hours of service rule." She added that not everyone in the industry opposes the provisions of the rule that have sparked controversy in Congress. American Trucking Associations has been pushing legislation that would suspend the 34-hour restart provi- sion pending completion of a study of its impact. The agency opposes this approach. "There are large numbers of drivers who would vastly prefer to see an hours of service structure that recognized their personal demands as professionals to get proper rest, and to work within a more manageable system," Ferro said. As the legislative fight over the restart proceeds, the agency is working on several studies of the issue, she said. It has a contract with the National Academy of Sci- ences for a study that's now under way, and it recently began the process of polling stakeholders for the ques- tions they want answered in a second study. Another effort is targeting the impact of driver fatigue on small businesses. The hours rule and others implemented during Ferro's tenure have prompted some in the industry to blame Ferro for excessive regulation, even though others in the industry would like to see more regulation. Ferro said she does not take the criticism personally. "It's not about me. It's about the position and it's about the agency's role," she said. The FMCSA adminis- trator "is not here to make friends," she said. "The administrator is here to fulfill the letter of the law." Looking back, she would not have done anything differently, she said. She added that she is not leaving the agency in re- sponse to a call from the board of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association that she resign. The opportunity from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators came before "OOIDA called for my head," she said. One pending rule at the agency, a proposal to ban co- ercion of drivers by employers, shippers, receivers or bro- kers, is the first clear expansion of the FMCSA's mandate deeper into the supply chain, Ferro said (see related story). But the rule will not be a silver bullet, she added. She encouraged carriers to use today's market condi- tions, in which demand exceeds supply, to get better treatment for drivers. "Shippers that are abusive should frankly be shut out," she said. "I applaud any owner-operator or carrier who says to a shipper, 'if you're not going to pay deten- tion time and tighten up on respect, we're not taking your contract." n WASHINGTONreport w "It is essential to recognize that professional drivers should be compensated for all time on duty." Highway bill starts 10-month countdown When President Obama signed the latest short-term extension of the federal highway program last month, it started a 10-month clock on yet another funding deadline. The $10.8 billion bill, passed by Congress at the last moment before the Highway Trust Fund dipped into the red, will keep the fund solvent until next May. It is the 12th short-term patch in the past five years, and while it was greeted as a reprieve by state transportation departments and other interests, the relief is tempered by concern about what will happen next. The federal highway program is in crisis, said Transportation Secre- tary Anthony Foxx. "We can't afford to wait until May," he said. If Congress does not pass a long-term bill this year, it is not likely to get the job done on deadline, he said. The new Congress will be installed in January, after the November mid-term elections, and important legislative action will be postponed until legislators have found their bearings and the issues are lined up. There will be little opportunity to pass a major high- way bill before the end of May, Foxx said. PHOTO: ISTOCK.COM 8

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