At a time when the new hours-of-service rules could force truckers and fleet managers to hire more drivers, another federal rule is in the works that could make it more difficult for them to do that.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed a rule that would require truckers to obtain information about a job candidate's driving record from every company that has employed him or her in the past three years. Trouble is, the rule gives past employers a full 30 days to respond to the inquiries, which cover hours-of-service violations, accidents and misuse of alcohol or drugs.
That's way too long, say the trucking companies (and presumably, the drivers). In comments filed with the FMCSA, the Truckload Carriers Association argued that giving former employers 30 days to respond is unreasonable and requested that the response period be reduced to five days. "As FMCSA well knows, the trucking industry has been experiencing a driver shortage for years and this shortage is not expected to end any time soon. Because of the shortage, carriers have a critical need to be able to screen prospective drivers in the shortest time possible," TCA President Robert A. Hirsch wrote in response to the proposal.
TCA also worries that the appeal process made available to drivers to challenge the accuracy of former employers' records could seriously delay a hiring decision. The proposed rule allows drivers 30 days to dispute information from a former employer. TCA fears that combined with the initial response time given to those employers in the rule, a hiring decision could be delayed for as much as 60 days.
TCA also opposes a proposal that would give insurers access to a driver's record without a driver's consent other than for drug and alcohol violations. Hirsch wrote that the rule implicitly gives insurers unwarranted control over hiring decisions.
The TCA also called for simplifying the accident data given to hiring carriers, arguing that basic information on the accident and any citations would suffice.