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Graves: New restart provision giving industry heartburn

ATA President and CEO Bill Graves, shown here in a screen capture, told a national television audience Friday that the 10 percent of the new HOS rule dealing with the restart provision was giving the industry heartburn. (Courtesy: FOX BUSINESS NEWS)

The Trucker News Services

6/24/2013

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations agrees with 90 percent of the Hours of Service rule that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will begin enforcing July 1, ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said during a Fox Business News interview Friday afternoon.

It’s the other 10 percent that’s causing the industry heartburn.

“We agree with about 90 percent of this rule that’s been in effect since 2003,” Graves answered when questioned about a driver’s ability to spend up to 82 hours a week behind the wheel under the current rule. “Where we have the heartburn now is with what’s called the restart. Most drivers are not stretching their schedules to the point you described. Most drive between 45 and 50 hours a week. What the federal government has said is we want to force you to take more rest time, taking you off the road for greater periods of rest. First of all it begs the question:  if you are offered more time off from your job, are you necessarily going to rest. We don’t think that’s probably the case. We think it’s (the new restart provision) going to take the flexibility we need in this industry to deliver product little more fragile and put pressure on the cost of moving goods in America.”

Drivers can use the 34-hour restart an unlimited number of times during a seven-day period under current rule.

On July 1, the FMCSA will begin to enforce a provision that allows the restart to be used only one time every seven days and says that any restart must include two consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods.

Also on July 1, the agency will begin enforcing the portion of new rule that requires at least a 30-minute rest break after every eight consecutive hours on duty.

During the interview, Graves reiterated that fact that everyone believes the new rule will reduce productivity.

“We think nationwide there’s probably going to be a 2-3 percent, and some say 1.5-4 percent drop in productivity,” Graves said. “Depending on what type of operation you run it could be more than that. Basically, if you think about trucking as the circulatory system for the economy, it is going to diminish the throughput of freight movement.”

Graves said the new rule comes at a time when the industry was starting to see a rebound in housing and the movement of construction materials so support the rebound.

“And we are seeing a lot of activity in the energy sector with the fracking activities,” he said. “It’s not great but our industry is moving right along.”

The ATA and some members of Congress have repeatedly called on the FMCSA to delay enforcing the new restart and break provisions until either (1) the appeals court ruling on petitions to overturn the rule has been issued and/or (2) until the Congressionally-mandated field study on the 34-hour restart rule is completed sometime later this year.

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

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