Anne Ferro's own words, she's "all about safety."
So, Anne, let's explore where the safety is, shall we?
This is a hard one to write, for you have to decide where to start. You have to decide when to tie in the TCA and the ATA also. If I go off track for a minute, please forgive me, for there is a lot to cover in a short span.
I've taken a look at the BMI standards the administration has been looking at implementing over and over again. You see, a recent doctor's visit had this BMI scale there. If you look at my pictures, I'm fit. If you've met me in person, you know I've got 10-15 extra pounds on me, and this doesn't bother me. What bothers me is the BMI is height versus weight, and isn't factoring in muscle mass. This scale put me at morbidly obese.
This is not morbidly obese! Yet the FMCSA's erroneous BMI scale says it is! In this picture, I'm in a size small Aeropostale shirt.
So, in the name of fairness, how is punishing people for being very muscular fair? How is that safe? You'd think you'd prefer a lot more muscleheads, and would discourage the practice instead of pushing them away. According to this scale, the picture above is at much at risk due to weight as the picture below. (Picture courtesy of Ron Pridmore.)
No offense to the man above, but he looks like he'd run out of breath in 10 steps, and is only one stress away from a huge cardiac arrest. My heart is healthy. I run with my dog, and spend two hours a day in rigorous play with Autumn (this includes dragging and picking up a 100 pound pit/boxer by her toy for hours). Maybe, just maybe, before they try to push BMI again, they can figure out a common sense approach.
They keep trying to change around the hours of service to make them "safer." This is erroneous in so many ways. First of all, in this industry, there never will be a "one size fits all." This is why there are different sets of rules for different aspects on everything but HOS. Household has their own regs, oil has their own regs, haz-mat has their own regs, and oversized has their own regs. Yet, all of these, once again, fall into the same category, with the exception of oil and local haulers, under HOS. Teams fall into the same rules as solo drivers, for the most part, even though the two aspects are literally worlds apart.
Their new safety solution with HOS is going backwards in safety now, not forward. For starters, you can't do more than one reset in a week. I'm sorry, but you would think an administration trying to battle fatigue would make a mandatory weekly reset instead of saying no to more than one. A driver should never be punished for the amount of resets they take. Lou has been known to do two in a week. He's well rested on those weeks, for he takes more time off. This reset also now has to contain two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods, and can only be obtained once per week. First, it was clearly stating every 168 hours, and I'm sure once all the lawsuits are cleared, it'll be shown in the fine print. Let's explore this.
First of all, this mandatory timing of 34's puts in a huge issue on the already dilapidated parking structure in the highway system. If you're one of those who've tried to find a parking spot once the sun goes down, you know parking is at a high premium. This parking situation is so bad, that when complaining of a Schneider truck trying to squeeze his truck and trailer into a 6' wide spot (our 14' wide was in the parking spot), I was actually told by someone who has no clue on oversized loads, "At least you can give him credit for trying." Now, I'm no rocket scientist, but you do the math. These guys who deserve credit for trying is the reason you see so many of the oversized haulers parking their bobtail next to their load nowadays. They are being forced to take evasive action to protect their load. With more and more trucks entering the highway system daily, and fewer and fewer parking spots being available, this time constriction will make it less safe for the drivers, by cutting out many finding safe parking spots. On top of this, it'll force drivers to be fatigued. If they drive non-daylight hours, they will be forced to take a break longer than 34 hours, and will mess up their sleep cycle. If one of these drivers shuts down at 3 a.m. on Friday, they will not be allowed to start up until 5 a.m. on Monday. That'll amount to a 50 hour break just to include the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. rule. This will also mess up their body's sleep cycle, leading to more fatigue, not less.
The old rules helped household drivers when they needed to load a house, bullhaulers when tending to the customers at livestock auctions, oversized haulers with monster loads to tarp, and specialized haulers who had to set up their loads after hauling or do rigging duties after making it to the job site. You were allowed up to 14 consecutive hours on-duty/not driving after your 14 hour clock was up, but had to take a consecutive 10 hour break after your extraneous on-duty/not driving portion. Now, any on duty time constitutes a 16 hour window. If I'm reading this correctly (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong), you will only be allowed an extra 2 hours now, which will force drivers to cheat on their logs, and drive fatigued to get the job done in certain fields.
Maximum on-duty time within your driving window was 14 hours, which is crucial for anyone who needs to do 150 mile/3 hour load checks (car haulers, flatbeds, specialized haulers, etc). Now, though, you are only allowed 13 hours on duty, forcing you to flag your load checks or do your load checks off-duty.
Originally, the proposal said you could not drive/work more than 8 hours without a 30 minute break. Now, it is 7. I just saw this change. So, if you're oversized, chasing daylight, you are mandatorily forced to stop. This isn't so bad. Everyone, at some point in time, stops, uses the restroom, grabs a drink/snack. That's 30 minutes right there. My issue in this, honestly, is if the governments are going to tell small business owners in trucking when they have to take a break, they have to tell every small business this. This takes away more freedoms than the FMCSA is allowed to impede upon in my opinion.
The only thing they got right is for the teams. The teams no longer have to break the law to sit in the front seat. If you are in the passenger seat for up to 2 hrs before or after your 8 hour sleeper berth, you can log it off duty. This, however, becomes trickier for teams in large companies. Most large companies have went to EOBR's that weren't set up for teams. So, while said team member is in the passenger seat, they can't show off duty until the other member logs out of the system, thus leading them to once again be illegal upon entry into a scale.
In my opinion, the worst part of the HOS, current and proposed, is the hard 14 hour clock. Owner operators aren't plagued so much by this. Large company drivers with EOBR's are. They can't nap when tired. This makes it unsafe. Lou will be the first to say if he has to tread into a gray area and cheat due to the fact he wants a nap, he will. He sees it safer to possibly face a fine than to drive tired. Many will agree with him on this one. People who do not travel in a truck every day do not understand the adjustments a trucker's body had made to their lifestyle, and can't safely tell a driver what's best for them in my opinion. Some days, a driver can go 1000 miles without being tired, the next day, they would only be able to go 90. Give them a soft 14, i.e., they can only work a total of 14 hours in a 24 hour period. Let them rest when they need to. Don't tell them what's best for them, for, if you aren't them, you don't know. Joyce Brenny mentioned a retina scanner one time. This would be mounted to read your retinas, and make you stop when tired. I think this would actually serve better than any act of legislation, for you can go how you need to, instead of how a bunch of pencil pushers think you should.
A major thank you to OOIDA for getting this thrown out the first time. Unfortunately, Ferro is pushing for it again. Are they safe? Are they legal? Is their a safety oriented necessity for them?
EOBR's are a flawed system. Data can be changed, drivers can slightly cheat the system. You see, when Lou was at ATS, we agreed to try them out. We figured out how long we could go in rush hour traffic without having to show driving, how to go out to the boonies in the wind mill sights without showing it, and many more things. There were days that the log would look like an EKG while Lou was low on hours. Why? He cheated for every 15 minutes he needed. These pushed his limits, forcing him to drive tired because he couldn't just stop and nap, there was no way to bump the data that much. He was chastised by safety when the logs decided not to go through, or the GPS in the system would mess up and have us in Nebraska, even though he was logging in from Goose Creek, South Carolina. You see, if the log messes up on the EOBR, you have to have hard logs. This is actually listed in CSA. If you dont' have backup logs and your EOBR messes up, you get points and a ticket, for you don't technically have a logbook. But, if you're doing paper and electronic, you're breaking the law by having two logbooks. Many EOBR's now have you show pre- and post-trip inspections on the EOBR's. There's an illegality here also. According to 49 CFR 396.13, if a driver finds a malfunction during inspection, inspection must be signed. How do you have your actual signature on an EOBR? In FMCSR 395.8 (d)(5), it requires a driver's signature on each log. How do you, once again, provide an actual signature on an EOBR?
The FMCSA is constantly pursuing stopping distracted driving. They made regulations against handheld cell phones, so now the drivers are more dangerous while trying to hide the fact that they're texting, opening apps, etc. When they chose to ban handhelds from CMV's, they should've had the NTSB push through a nationwide CMV ban for POV's also. How many times does a driver have to avoid the person next to them with their head up their posterior body part because they are too distracted with one of 100 things? Drivers can tell you many stories of scary stuff idiots due while driving, for they see them every day.
EOBR's and Qualcomm's can not be seen when the driver is rolling. So, instead of safe driving practices, you get to see some yahoo at least once a week cut straight across several lanes of traffic and hitting the shoulder to see what their company wants. How did this make things safer?
While talking about distractions though, why are there so many ads and billboards and vehicles on the road with those little scanny things? (You know, those odd, square shaped images that can be scanned for apps or coupons.) How is that not distracting and tempting?
Now that they've started on banning distracted driving, where will it end? I mean, to get a sip of water/coffee/juice/milk is distracting to some. Smoking a cigarette. Scantily dressed women. Radio. CB. Nice cars. Needing to pee. Your load. Your pilot car. Beefy men. Billboards. Smells. Contruction workers. Scenery. All of these can be seen as distractions. Will they ban everything, including scenery? Or will they finally realize accidents and fatalities from at fault commercial drivers is the lowest it's been in a long time, and finally realize their regulations against distracted driving make things more dangerous?
Instead of boring you to sleep, I will make a part 4 with even more erroneous safety regulations they want to push.