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Liberty makes war on equity in truckers' Hours of Service regulation row

AMERICAN truck drivers are divided on the revised Hours of Service regulations with the Teamsters union favouring tighter control while independent operators prefer freedom of choice, reports New York's FreightWaves

Liberty makes war on equity in truckers' Hours of Service regulation row

AMERICAN truck drivers are divided on the revised Hours of Service regulations with the Teamsters union favouring tighter control while independent operators prefer freedom of choice, reports New York's FreightWaves

18 August 2019 - 19:00

AMERICAN truck drivers are divided on the revised Hours of Service regulations with the Teamsters union favouring tighter control while independent operators prefer freedom of choice, reports New York's FreightWaves.

On one hand flexibility, to pause 'spy-in-the-cab' electronic logging devices (ELD) for up to three hours in the revised version of draft regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has been praised by independent truckers.



The three-hour pause of the ELD would allow an off-duty break without fear of exhausting available driving hours under the 14-hour clock, the FMCSA said.



For the moment, the FMCSA is going with five proposals intended to ease driving rules for truckers who haul 70 per cent of the nation's freight. The agency will accept public comment for 45 days before finalising the new rules.



Many criticised a 30-minute rest break required during or immediately after eight hours of driving. Under the proposal, a driver using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty could satisfy the break.



'The 30-minute break is a joke. We don't need it,' said Alex Costerus, a Colorado contractor for LandStar System.



Said Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA): 'The proposed changes are positive start since truckers don't have any control over their schedules or traffic conditions.'



The OOIDA petitioned FMCSA for flexibility in the 30-minute break rule and for other changes. The three-hour break could help avoid traffic congestion, the agency said.



The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) said in an October 2018 report that traffic bottlenecks and slowdowns cost the industry US$74.5 billion in operating losses in 2017.



The Teamsters fear that the changes would lead to less safe roads and longer workdays for drivers.



'The Teamsters have serious concerns about what we have seen thus far when it comes to these hours of service reforms,' said Teamsters general president Jim Hoffa.



'In an effort to increase so-called 'flexibility' for trucking companies, the FMCSA is abandoning safety and allowing drivers to push themselves to the limit even further.'



Mr Hoffa pointed out that the proposed revision lengthening the maximum on-duty period for short-haul drivers from 12 to 14 hours would mean a 'more exhausting workday' for workers. The union is also concerned about easing restrictions on the 30-minute rest break, and allowing drivers to pause their 14-hour driving window with an off-duty break.


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