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Proposed scheduling rules introduced for truckers ignites heated debate

Proposed scheduling rules introduced for truckers ignites heated debate

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All companies in Illinois that rely upon trucking as the means by which products are shipped to or from their locations should have a natural concern to stay abreast of major changes in the transportation industry.

Certainly trucking companies, owner-operators and businesses that operate their own fleets find this to be an integral concern of their everyday operations.

In July of 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted new legislation that represented sweeping reform in the hours of service that truck drivers were allowed to work. Improved safety was the declared reason for the changes. Reductions in the total number of hours that can be worked on both a daily and weekly basis were among the changes. The most controversial element of the new law, however, was the requirement that every driver take a minimum 34-hour break every week. This break must span two different 1:00 am to 5:00 am time periods.

The push to change the change

According to FleetOwner, the American Trucking Association has led a strong charge to suspend the required rests as outlined in the 2013 law. The ATA stands alone in its support of the suspension. Fleet Owner indicates that the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the Teamsters union and an organization called Advocates for Highway and Automotive Safety are all in support of the FMCSA’s regulations governing trucking companies.

Those opposed to the provision cite the following negative implications of its enforcement, as noted in The Hill:

  • More trucks will be funneled onto roadways during daylight hours when a greater percentage of other vehicles are also travelling, posing an inherent safety risk.
  • Truckers will find their maximum number of work hours cut, reducing their income to unacceptable levels. This includes many situations in which drivers must take two consecutive days off during which they would previously have been allowed to work.
  • Overall production of owner-operators and trucking companies will decrease.

If the law’s provision is allowed to be suspended, federal funding originally budgeted to pay for the enforcement of the rest period would be withheld. Some groups are calling for a study of safety data before and after its implementation. Administrative burdens are among some of the concerns cited by supporters of the regulations. Additionally, the FMCSA asserts it is more efficient scheduling, not an elimination of the rules, that truckers need in order to drive more consistently.

While the future of the current HOS regulation outlining rest periods for truckers is as yet unknown, it is clear that this is a topic that all companies affected will be following. The effects of the final outcome will impact everyone from independent operators to large corporations.

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