Heavy Duty Trucking

SEP 2014

The Fleet Business Authority

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f 18 HDT • SEPTEMBER 2014 www.truckinginfo.com roads in good repair yields an economic benefit, and most say that their local traffic has gotten worse in the past five years. "The poll doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know," said Joshua Schank, president and CEO of the think-tank Eno Center for Transportation. "It's very difficult to convince people that they should pay for something that from their perspective clearly works pretty well." Local polls show people are concerned about short- comings in their personal transportation experiences, but that does not show up in national polls — at least not to the level that makes people willing to pay more, he said. "It is not realistic to think we can change that public perception, but you can change how elected officials are leading," he said. Foxx made a similar point. "I think the country needs to get a little noisier on this," he said, and added that the timing may be right for action. "Over the past six years Congress has looked under every mattress, under the kids' car seats for nickels and dimes to keep the HTF stable," he said. "There's only so much of that can be done before you run out of options and I think we're very close to that point. We now have a moment when Republicans and Democrats can forge an alliance." n WASHINGTONreport "Stop stealing from future generations and pass a long-term highway program reform bill that is paid for in the same time frame in which the money is spent." – Bob Corker, R-Tenn. Federal truck safety regulations are venturing into new territory with a proposal to protect drivers from coercion, igniting concerns among shippers and others about how the rule will affect them. The proposal by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration aims to prevent carriers, shippers, receiv- ers or brokers from forcing drivers to violate require- ments such as hours of service or other regulations. It was ordered by Congress in the 2012 highway law, MAP-21, in response to long-standing driver concerns that carriers and others often are indifferent to the op- erational restrictions imposed by the safety rules. The agency proposed an approach to the rule back in May and solicited comments that were due August 11. The proposal would prohibit threatening drivers who decline to do a job because it would force them to break the rules. A violation could lead to a fine of as much as $11,000, and the proposal sets forth procedures drivers could follow to report coercion. Reaction ranges from objections that it does way too much, to insistence that it does too little. The strongest comments come from shippers who believe the agency's approach would make them respon- sible for drivers they do not control. The National Industrial Transportation League said the proposal would require shippers to make sure drivers are complying with rules that are typically monitored by their employers. Shippers also are concerned that the procedures for reporting coercion are based on "he said/she said" exchanges, which would be hard to confirm. The National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council described the proposal as "a stunning overreach and abuse of regulatory power." "In effect, FMCSA seeks to deputize virtually all American businesses, along with federal, state and local governments, and individuals shipping personal prop- erty and household goods, as unofficial compliance personnel regulated by this agency," the council said. Shippers already have good reasons not to coerce driv- ers to break the rules — they face lawsuits triggered by crashes, for example, and they drive the same roads as the trucks they hire to distribute their goods, the council said. The Transportation Intermediaries Association, which represents brokers, said the proposal would require its members to act as employers when it comes to ensuring compliance with safety rules. Trucking interests have a different take on the issue. American Trucking Associations generally supports the agency's approach, with some reservations about how Shippers air concerns about coercion proposal "In effect, FMCSA seeks to deputize virtually all American businesses … as unofficial compliance personnel regulated by this agency." – National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council

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