Heavy Duty Trucking

OCT 2014

The Fleet Business Authority

Issue link: https://heavydutytrucking.epubxp.com/i/399400

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c 14 HDT • OCTOBER 2014 www.truckinginfo.com Congress passed a temporary appropriations measure that does not include a suspension of the 34-hour restart provision of the hours of service rule. The Continuing Resolution is a relatively "clean" bill that leaves out such initiatives as American Trucking Associations' attempt to suspend the restart. This summer, ATA won consideration of the sus- pension in the Senate's version of the fiscal year 2015 appropriations bill. The Senate did not finish debate on the provision, however, due to partisan differences. Dave Osiecki, executive vice president and chief of national advocacy for ATA, said the association will continue to try and attach the suspension to the appro- priations process. The resolution funds federal programs at current levels until December 11. The annual appropriations process will resume after the November mid-term elec- tion, at which point the restart could be in play again. At issue is the provision in the 2013 hours-of-service rule that requires drivers to take two periods off between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. during their 34-hour restart, and limits use of the restart to once a week. Some members of ATA and shipping interests con- tend that the provision reduces productivity without improving safety. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, supported by some carriers, the Teamsters union and safety advocates, stands by the provision. So far, the Senate has held some debate on an amend- ment by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that would suspend the restart for a year while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration studies its impact. The House has considered a different approach that criticizes but does not suspend the restart. Under this approach, FMCSA would report its evidence for the once-a-week restriction on the restart, including an as- sessment of the effect of the restriction on safety. If the restart suspension is not included in the appro- priations bill that Congress must eventually pass, ATA will have the option of finding another home for it. Osiecki declined to say if ATA would follow that path. An obvious choice for such a tactic would be the bill to reauthorize the federal transportation program, which will include a title covering truck safety regulations. That bill is due next May, when the current tempo- rary highway program expires, although it is not clear that Congress will be prepared to make a decision on the funding portion of the bill by that time. Meanwhile, the 34-hour restart provision remains in effect. WASHINGTONreport Congress passes short-term appropriations bill without 34-hour restart provision T he Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has begun a study of the relationship between safety and driver pay. At issue is the concern that drivers who are not paid for time waiting to load or unload are forced into unsafe practices in order to make a living. "It is essential to recognize that professional drivers should be compensated for all time on duty. That's integral to achieving the overall safety mis- sion," former agency chief Anne Ferro recently said. Ferro was referencing a provision in the pend- ing Obama administration highway bill that would require carriers to pay drivers at least the federal minimum wage for time spent waiting to be loaded or unloaded. Over-the-road drivers generally are paid by the mile and are often not compensated for wait time. "The [FMCSA] believes that safety could be sig- nificantly increased if drivers were compensated for these waiting periods," the administration says in its analysis of the bill. FMCSA will study driver pay impact on safety Now the agency says it intends to "analyze the pos- sible unintended consequences of the various meth- ods by which (commercial) drivers are compensated." The agency also will look at how the type of operation – long-haul versus short-haul, and big carrier versus small carrier – factors into the pay question. Other elements of the analysis will include funda- mentals such as private versus for-hire carriage, the number of power units, average length of haul, com- modities, the number of drivers in the company and their experience. The agency will look for how pay and these other variables may affect driver and vehicle out-of-service rates as well as crash rates. If the study finds a connection between methods of pay and safety, that information will help carriers make informed decisions about their compensation prac- tices, the agency said. The study will be done through an online question- naire of randomly selected carriers.

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