Recently, the Senate panel for truck drivers proposed a $56 billion transportation bill that would implement a 73-hour, seven-day work week limit. According to Logistics Management, trucker service hours would be changed as part of a 2017 transportation funding bill.
Under the bill, the 73-hour cap would not change the current maximum driving hours of truck drivers per week without a restart. Those hours are now 60 per week and 70 over an eight-day period. Now though, under the bill, once a trucker hits the maximum per 7 or 8 days, they will need to take a 34-hour break. This break period was initially enacted in 2013, but later suspended.
The bill was pushed by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to clarify a technicality listed in the resting rules of a 2016 funding law. It has since been approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 30-0 vote.
The Trucking Alliance criticizes the bill
The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security has opposed the legislation. The alliance claims that the 34-hour mandated break was proposed without scientific evidence of safety issues or benefits. It also asserted that the current rules under the 2013 Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill prevents the reinstatement of the 34-hour break period. Furthermore, the alliance argued that regulations should be based on data collected from the electronic logging devices that all truck drivers will be required to use by December 2017. Finally, it claimed that the codification of the hours of service rule through Congress would severely restrict Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's influence over regulatory changes in the future.
The alliance's basic issue with the bill is that it would create confusion between regulators and drivers. In turn, it could potentially increase the driver work week by 13 hours on the 60-hour 7-day schedule.
The American Trucking Associations wants the changes
The ATA is in favor of the hours of service language of the bill. According to a Transport Topics report, the organization was pleased that Congress had taken the actions to mandate service hours. Despite the fact that the Senate does not have the results of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study that the bill was intended to be based on, its motive for supporting the bill was that more needs to be done to improve driver safety and health.
The major trucking organizations are divided on the validity of the bill. This has certainly become a hot button issue, but with Congress receiving so much criticism and support, it is clear that the industry will need to become more involved in the dialogue going forward.
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