Heavy Duty Trucking

DEC 2014

The Fleet Business Authority

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14 HDT • DECEMBER 2014 www.truckinginfo.com ecutive action if the House fails to act on a comprehensive reform bill that the Senate passed with bipartisan support. There has been discussion of a possible bid for a highway bill during the lame duck period before the new Senate leadership takes office, but McConnell said he would be focused on a Continuing Resolution for the 2015 budget, and possibly some tax reform measures. The incoming Republican majority may provide a more welcome environment for ATA's move to suspend the 34-hour restart provision (See story below). The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to attach a suspension amendment to its funding bill last summer but debate was halted due to a procedural disagreement. Dave Osiecki, executive vice president and chief of national advocacy for ATA, has said the association will continue to try to attach the suspension to the appro- priations process. ■ WASHINGTONreport C onflict over the 34-hour restart provision of the hours-of-service rule intensified as Congress got closer to a possible vote on suspending it. A safety advocacy group released research indicating that the public does not want truck drivers to work longer hours, and trucking groups jumped in, one arguing that the research has no merit and the other contending that the real solution to the problem is to expedite the pending electronic logging mandate. At issue is the effort by American Trucking Associations to get Congress to suspend the provision, which requires drivers to take off two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. during their restart. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administra- tion says this will improve safety because night- time sleep is more restorative than daytime sleep. ATA opposes the restriction, arguing that it can reduce carrier productivity and may increase risk by putting more trucks on the road during Monday morning rush hour. ATA is pushing legislation that would suspend the provision pending more research into its im- pact, and Congress may take up that amendment as part of its 2015 appropriations measures. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, which opposes suspension, hired a polling company to gauge public reaction. The company told half of the respondents about the truck crash that severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed one of his companions, then asked if Congress should raise the weekly work limit for truck drivers from 70 to 82 hours. The other half got the same question without the reference to the Tracy Morgan crash. A total of 80% of the group said they oppose increasing the limit, 60% said they strongly op- pose it, and 17% said they think it's a good idea to raise the limit. "This survey reveals a clear disconnect be- tween what the public wants and what special trucking interests want from Congress," said Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates, in a state- ment. "We urge Congress to reject this anti- safety change and heed the public's assessment of its dangers." ATA jumped in, urging Congress to ignore the poll. "The results of a misleading push poll should not be taken into consideration when crafting public policy," said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves in a statement. Referencing Advocates' assertion that the re- start suspension would increase the weekly limit from 70 to 82 hours, he said, "FMCSA has previ- ously said that the alleged working hours envi- sioned by these industry critics are only possible in an 'imaginary world.'" The third voice is The Trucking Alliance, which represents a half-dozen truck lines that have their own safety agenda on Capitol Hill. Lane Kidd, managing director of the group, took the occasion of the Advocates poll to urge FMCSA to speed up work on the electronic log- ging mandate, which is due next year. "The stark reality is that without a way to verify industry compliance, it doesn't matter what the federal government's hours-of-service rules are for truck drivers," Kidd said in a statement. "Nobody really knows who is and who is not following these federal hours-of-service rules because paper logbooks easily allow truck driv- ers to exceed their maximum number of hours," Kidd said. ■ Advocates poll rekindles restart fight

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