Dan England, chairman and president of large refrigerated truckload carrier C.R. England and first vice chairman of the American Trucking Associations, said today that proposed changes in the regulations governing truck drivers' hours of service will do great harm to the trucking industry and could have a detrimental effect on highway safety.
Speaking at the NASSTRAC conference in Orlando, Fla., England charged that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is bowing to political pressure and ignores evidence in the government's own statistics that the current rule is working well. To buttress his argument, he told the group that Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) last year held up the nomination of Anne M. Ferro as head of the FMCSA until the agency announced that it would revisit the rule.
He said ATA would challenge the regulations in court if they are adopted. John Cutler, legal counsel for NASSTRAC, the shippers' organization, said the group will join ATA in any such challenge. Under a court-ordered settlement, FMCSA must publish a final rule by July 26.
The proposed changes in the hours of service (HOS) regulations would limit drivers to 10 hours on the road a day, down from the current 11, and change the rules regarding mandated time off for drivers, which truckers contend would push more trucks onto roads during rush hour. The proposal's many critics argue that the new regulations would severely disrupt supply chains designed around current driver scheduling rules.
England said the proposed changes, if adopted, would force carriers to put more trucks on the road to compensate for lost hours, boost driver pay to offset the loss of driving time, and add more inexperienced drivers to fleets. The net result, he said, would be lower productivity per truck, increased transportation costs and congestion, and more headaches for state regulators and law enforcement.
England said that recent statistics from the Department of Transportation show that the truck-related fatality rate in 2009 was 1.17 per 100 million miles driven, the lowest rate on record. The rate has fallen by more than 36 percent since the current rule was adopted in 2004, he said.