Associations

Shipper Group Says “It’s Time To Stand Up For Trucking!”

Modifications to pre-existing rules regarding drivers’ service hours. Truck size and weight limitations (SHIPA).

August 31, 2011
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Each of these two critical advocacy issues have recently been considered by NASSTRAC and may ultimately increase annual transportation costs by eight to ten percent.

Can you honestly afford to stand by idly as these changes are mandated? Since so many shippers rely heavily on over-the-road trucking for the safe, reliable and cost-effective movement of freight, NASSTRAC has recently ramped up its advocacy efforts to “stand up for trucking.” Here are just a few of the latest developments:

Hours of Service.In October 2009, the Department of Transportation agreed to revisit the HOS issue. More than a year later, in December 2010, the department issued a proposed set of new rules to change the length of time in which a driver cannot work after he or she reaches the maximum allowable number of hours for the week. However, the DOT did not conclude whether or not the number of allowable hours of drive time would be reduced from 11 to ten hours per day.

While maintaining the start provision at 34 hours, the proposed set of new rules implements a significant change: it mandates that the restart period must include two consecutive periods from 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. As one of NASSTRAC’s allies on the HOS issue, the American Trucking Association has underscored the fact that the proposed changes would force more trucks onto the highways during peak congestion hours—which, most agree, would be counterproductive.

More recently, FMCSA allowed public review and discussion on four studies related to truck driver fatigue. These studies may be the basis for reducing the number of allowable drive time hours from 11 to ten each day. Of course, one question now lingers: How will these studies affect any modifications in the restart provisions?  NASSTRAC opposes such proposed changes and has taken the position that, if the new rules eliminate one hour of drive time and the proposed restart provision remains unchanged, the costs to both carriers and shippers, who comply with these changes, will be substantial.

Truck Size and Weight Issue (SHIPA).Unfortunately, the HOS issue isn’t the only potential piece of disastrous legislation that may be detrimental to supply chain productivity. The Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act, otherwise known as SHIPA, was announced on May 3 by U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ. SHIPA, introduced in both the House and the Senate (H.R. 763, S. 747), is the rail industry’s response to the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (“SETA”). After witnessing the progress that shippers and carriers have made while advancing legislation for safer, heavier trucks, the rail industry called upon Sen. Lautenberg to introduce SHIPA, which effectively freezes the size and weight of trucks allowed on our nation’s interstate highway system. While introducing this legislation, Sen. Lautenberg stated that “keeping super-sized tractor-trailers off our roads will save lives and protect our highways and bridges from heavy damage.”

Even though this sounds like a noble objective, Sen. Lautenberg is honestly misinformed and incorrect. There’s an abundance of information available to the public which highlights the ways in which roads might actually be safer if drivers continue to use larger trucks. Even though heavier trucks are allowed on state highways in many states, the railroads and the Teamsters are willing to oppose any type of legislation which may increase productivity and save money for shippers and carriers. Unfortunately, Senator Lautenberg’s misguided legislation, if passed, would actually increase the amount of trucks on the road, waste billions of gallons in diesel fuel and dramatically raise carbon emission levels.

Although each of these issues may possess some positive merits, their negative repercussions simply must not be ignored. Now is the time to discuss your sentiments with your local, state and national governmental leaders so that your voice is heard before it is too late. This is your chance to “stand up for trucking!” Do not let your voice – or your present opportunity to make a difference – be squandered.

To view NASSTRAC filings on each of these issues, please visit NASSTRAC’s advocacy website:  www.FreightAdvocacy.org. wt

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