April 24, 2003, Grain Valley, MO - The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has made modest changes to the federal hours-of-service rules for truck drivers, but the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) believes these new rules will have minimal impact on driver fatigue. Not until truck drivers are no longer regularly pressured to meet unrealistic delivery deadlines, and they are no longer forced to perform uncompensated work for as many as 33 to 44 hours per week, will we see a significant reduction in fatigue issues.
Whether or not the federal government allows a trucker to drive 10 or 11 hours a day makes no difference to many shippers and carriers whose only concern is that their loads are delivered on time. Drivers who refuse to make deliveries on unrealistic and illegal time schedules demanded by shippers are routinely denied business or forced from their jobs.
Shippers also routinely make truckers wait from between two hours to two days before they are allowed to load or unload their truck. Some even require drivers to unload their truck and perform warehouse work such as restacking pallets. Shippers do not pay for this time and work, and have no incentive to treat drivers differently. Not only is this work unpaid, but it steals the time that drivers have under the rules to do the work they are paid for: driving the truck.
To bring attention to these problems, the OOIDA Board of Directors has taken the step of declaring June 2003, National Truck Safety Month. This June, OOIDA members and truck drivers across the country are committing themselves to make an extra effort to obey all of the trucking safety rules and to resist the pressure to violate them.
While OOIDA is grateful to FMCSA for abandoning the most disturbing parts of its initial hours of service proposal, especially the proposal for 24-hour a day electronic surveillance of drivers, the association encourages FMCSA, Department of Transportation (DOT) and Congress to understand the limited safety improvements that can be made through this rule. Not until shippers and carriers stop pressuring drivers to break the rules, and drivers are paid for all the work they do, will the hours-of-service rules have their intended effect.
Jim Johnston, president of OOIDA said, "After almost 65 years of working with regulatory controls that should have been declared obsolete decades ago, this is a pretty sorry excuse for a revision to address today's problems."