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FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro raked over coals during HOS hearing

Ferro found herself constantly defending the new rule, but subcommittee members were having none of it, and neither were truckers. (Courtesy: HOUSE SMALL BUSINESS SUBCOMMITTEE)

By DOROTHY COX
The Trucker Staff

11/22/2013

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro was raked over the coals Thursday by legislators and truckers during a hearing on the new Hours of Service rules by a congressional subcommittee.

“What do you say to somebody who has spent not two days but a lifetime in a truck and says [the new hours] has upset their sleep … ,” said House Small Business Subcommittee Chairman Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., referring to the two-day trip Ferro took recently in a big rig.

“You’re saying the rule helps and truckers on the road don’t think it does,” he said.

Ferro found herself constantly defending the new rule, but subcommittee members were having none of it, and neither were truckers.

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association member Tilden Curl of Olympia, Wash., the 28th Goodyear Highway Hero, said, “Where before [the rules] I could rest due to shipper/receiver delays, weather or whatever, now it’s run, run, run ’til seven days have passed; then [I] get a rest or slow down ’til [my] hours catch up.”

Ferro reiterated the agency’s research and said it “shows that 85 percent of the truck driver workforce (1.36 million drivers) has an average weekly work time of 60 hours or less and thus, does not need to use the voluntary 34-hour restart.”

Hanna said in his introductory comments that even though FMCSA maintains the rule costs truckers less than 1 percent of revenue per year and impacts less than 15 percent of commercial drivers, industry stakeholders estimate the rules cost $376 million annually and “cost jobs.”

Ferro, often tight-lipped during proceedings, said the agency recognizes the new hours’ restart constraint impacts some drivers and companies, but that “the trade-off is improved safety for everyone.”

Truckers and congressmen weren’t buying it, quoting an American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) survey released Wednesday that shows 80 percent of carriers have suffered a productivity loss since the new rules went into effect and more than 66 percent of drivers surveyed reported increased fatigue under the new rules.

Hanna asked Ferro why FMCSA was “so numb” to needs of truckers and several subcommittee members said the agency showed “arrogance” in publishing the rules before its congressionally mandated study on the rules’ impact was completed.

Ferro said the agency “denies arrogance and numbness.”

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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