FMCSA rebukes New York Times article

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on Friday issued a response to an article in The New York Times (NYT) that portrays the current hours-of-service (HOS) rules as looser than the older rules

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on Friday issued a response to an article in The New York Times (NYT) that portrays the current hours-of-service (HOS) rules as looser than the older rules. The article pointed to the fact that the current rules potentially allows more driving hours than the pre-2003 rule.

The article linked the Bush Administration’s commitment to deregulating businesses and its ties with the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) to the looser trucking regs.

“After intense lobbying by the politically powerful trucking industry, regulators a year earlier had rejected proposals to tighten drivers’ hours and instead did the opposite, relaxing the rules on how long truckers could be on the road,” stated the article’s author, Stephen Lavaton.

“The truck fatality rate has declined 11% on the Bush administration’s watch…while the number of truck vehicle miles traveled increased by over 10%,” FMCSA stated.

FMCSA dismissed the notion that the current HOS represents deregulation over the pre-2003 rules.

“The new rule requires drivers to take a mandatory 10-hour break between shifts, up from eight in the previous rule,” FMCSA said. “The rule is being challenged in court by the trucking industry for being too restrictive.”

Specifically, the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Assn. (OOIDA) in January 2006 filed a petition for review of HOS with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. This was done after the agency denied OOIDA’s request to stop the 14-hour on-duty clock for two hours when a driver splits off-duty time into an eight-hour and a two-hour segments. FMCSA also denied OOIDA’s request to revert to the more flexible 2003 sleeper berth provision for team drivers, which allows drivers to split their 10-hour off-duty time into two parts, with no segment being less than two hours.

FMCSA sought to distance itself from the article’s claim that the Bush administration had installed industry officials into influential transportation posts. The agency pointed out that its most recent FMCSA Administrators, John Hill and Annette Sandberg are former state police officers with long public-safety careers.

The article pointed out that President Bush appointed Joseph M. Clapp, the former chairman of Roadway, to be FMCSA Administrator in 2001, a post he held for just over a year. The article also pointed out that before Bush entered the White House, he selected two ATA officials served on the Bush-Cheney transition team on transportation matters.

ATA has not yet issued a formal response to the article.

To comment on this article, write to Terrence Nguyen at [email protected]

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