Drivers meet with Sen. Ted Cruz to talk hours of service rewrite
Wednesday, January 17, a group of truckers took a meeting with United States Senator Ted Cruz in order to press concerns over the Department of Transportation’s electronic logging device mandate and the current hours of service rule.
Originally called for by trucker Dave McCauley after he made contacts with Cruz’s office on a trip McCauley and other haulers made to D.C. early this year, the meeting was also attended by a bevy of owner-operators and drivers regular readers may be familiar with from Overdrive‘s coverage of October demonstrations in D.C. and those in early December around the country.
Topics discussed included related issues of parking and training, but hours and ELDs were central to much of the discussion. Shelli Conaway, speaking Wednesday night in this edition of the Hammer Lane Radio network on Blogtalkradio.com, said Cruz and aides have asked for further information from the participants in order to assess potential legislative efforts in future. The Senator “wants us to come up with general ideas” for revisions to the hours of service, training protocols and parking fixes, Conaway said.
Several truckers in attendance are associated with the Monday Information Facebook group, originally formed to coordinate state-by-state efforts during the grassroots ELD Media Blitz of Dec. 4, 2017. That group said it had put out a call for hours revision ideas and today released a poll on several hours of service options at this link, where truckers can weigh in on their preferable option.Results, later, would be shared with Cruz’s office.
New Hampshire-based hauler John Grosvenor, speaking as part of this broadcast on the Hammer Lane network, said he came away with the impression that while Cruz was generally “very concerned” about issues presented by the ELD mandate, “he’s not as concerned about repealing the mandate as he is about the hours of service rules. … Something’s got to give.”
Grosvenor endorsed the notion of a “pause button” for the 14-hour on-duty clock, which the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is attempting to study in a Flexible Sleeper Berth Pilot Program that would allow a small group of truckers to utilize a multitude of options between the currently allowed 8/2-hour split to break up the duty day. If such research showed no safety-negative, it could further set the stage for hours of service revisions to allow greater such flexibility.
FMCSA put out a call for commentary on the study plan, which it was then set to deliver for White House Office of Management and Budget approval, in late October and received fewer than 150 comments. The research request remains at OMB awaiting review and approval, said FMCSA external affairs rep Duane DeBruyne. The request “was submitted to on November 29, 2017,” two days after the comment period closed.
The ability to pause the clock with mid-duty-period rest could effectively combat pressure Grosvenor and plenty others see building up on drivers to maximize driving hours no matter the situations ahead. On-highway accidents, weather, unforeseen delays at shipper and receiver locations — “with a continuously running clock,” he said, drivers are more likely to push through and “burn up your time” when otherwise a nap or other break might allow for the situation to resolve itself without hurting the trucker’s productivity — and income in the end.
Meeting attendees continue to urge drivers supportive of these efforts to engage their own representatives locally and/or in the nation’s capital. With an infrastructure bill a definite priority this year, there could be chance for legislative change in truckers’ favor, a point the Senator was said to have emphasized.
Have you been engaged with your rep and/or senators on these or other issues?