NPTC general counsel Richard (Rick) P. Schweitzer told Fleet Owner that the new HOS proposals - resulting from settlement of the third lawsuit by Public Citizen, the Teamsters and others - are “driven more by politics than policy or research.”
Public Citizen wants an 8-hour daily driving limit; FMCSA (the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) is going for 10 hours; while the Teamsters say that fewer available work hours will result in more jobs.
NPTC’s take on the proposed changes is that dropping to a 10-hour driving time and a revised 34-hour restart would put more trucks on the highways, including during morning rush hour; require more trucks and more drivers to make the same number of deliveries; and cause shipper and carrier costs to rise.
On the subject of mandating EOBR’s, NPTC has offered its qualified approval. According to Schweitzer, the organization supports mandating EOBRs for all interstate carriers with three caveats: that the technology must be cost-effective and accurate, that the rule must protect data ownership and access for carriers and drivers, and that the requirement for fleets to provide “supporting documents” to verify EOBR data be eliminated.
Heavier trucks have been the subject of intense debate for months. NPTC has come down firmly on the side of allowing heavier combinations, supporting the American Trucking Associations in this view. “NPTC strongly supports increasing weights to 97,000 pounds over six axles,” Schweitzer told Fleet Owner, “and we are participants in the Coalition for Transportation Productivity that is trying to make that happen legislatively.”
In March, the U.S. and Mexico announced a plan to allow certain authorized Mexican carriers to operate beyond commercial zones and obtain permit authority. It would end a long-standing dispute over allowing Mexican drivers across the border and would use U.S. highway funds to pay for EOBRs for Mexican trucks in the program.
While NPTC has not taken an official stance on this issue, Schweitzer told Fleet Owner that he expected they would endorse it. “NPTC does not have an official position on the US-Mexico border dispute,” he noted, “although my guess is that if asked we would come down in favor of additional access in both directions to promote international trade.
“As to the URS [Unified Registration System], we support putting DOT numbers, MC numbers, liability insurance and process agent filings together,” Schweitzer added. “Our only concern is on insurance filings—at present, private fleets that transport non-hazardous materials do not have to meet any federal liability insurance requirements (only state requirements). NPTC is not opposed to extending the $750,000 liability minimum that for-hire carriers must now meet to private fleets, but we do not want to have to file evidence of insurance with FMCSA. Instead, NPTC would prefer to have an insurance endorsement kept with the company records, and subject to inspection upon a compliance review, as the MCS-90 endorsement is now handled for hazardous materials shipments.”
Finally, concerning the rule proposed in January to prohibit transportation of flammable liquids in unprotected external piping or valves on the bottom of DOT-specification cargo tank trailers, NPTC is also actively involved in identifying solutions.
“…NPTC participates in the Interested Parties Group for Hazardous Materials Transportation, and we have jointly petitioned PHMSA to conduct a rulemaking with opportunity for comment on the agency’s new fitness standards for issuing special permits,” said Schweitzer. “In fact, I and other IP Group members, met with PHMSA Administrator Quarterman [recently] to discuss this issue.”