Thread: Rules of the road
Users Browsing this Thread
There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)
- 09-09-2007, 12:40 AM #1
Rules of the road
New regulations for our American truckers!!!
Are Mexican truck drivers held to these new rules?
Rules of the road
Long-haul truckers fume over regulations
By Peter Hull
The Post and Courier
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Long-haul truckers fume over regulations
Number of for-hire U.S. carriers in 2006.
Private carriers in 2006.
Number of trucks on U.S. roads for business purposes in 2004.
Tons of freight transported across U.S. by truck in 2005.
Forgive the region's truckers if they're feeling a little, well, picked on right now.
A number of rule changes coming down the road are likely to have significant implications for the industry.
They include changes to the maximum hours drivers can work in a day, impending federal identification requirements and efforts to curb speeding tractor-trailers.
It's enough to drive the most experienced trucker around the bend.
Barring a last-minute legal challenge, beginning Friday, the number of hours long-haul drivers can spend behind the wheel will be cut from 11 hours a day to 10. The decrease could hurt productivity, drivers say, and eventually hit consumers in their wallets.
For long-distance driver Billie Thomas, after nearly 20 years behind the wheel, the job is challenging enough as it is.
"I'm up here in Indiana running around like a chicken with its head cut off," she said this week during a telephone call from her cab. "One hour can make a big difference."
Thomas works for a Summerville firm but lives near Greenville. She's commonly away from home Monday to Friday, a life she has grown used to. Her latest trip took her to Chicago and Toledo, Ohio.
She said she'd like to see experienced drivers be allowed to schedule their own breaks. Most drivers know when they need to pull over, she said.
"We know when we get tired, we know when to lie down," Thomas said. "Cutting down the hours isn't going to help at all."
In late July, a U.S. appeals court threw out a ruling that allowed truckers to drive 11 straight hours. The federal government had extended the hours to 11 and increased weekly limits in 2003. For more than 60 years, the daily limit had stood at 10 hours.
The court also put the brakes on the "34-hour restart," a provision that allowed drivers to reset the clock on the maximum hours allowed behind the wheel during a seven-day period if they took a break of 34 consecutive hours.
The decision is the latest stop in a long-running battle between safety advocacy groups, including Public Citizen and Parents Against Tired Truckers, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Supporters of keeping the 11-hour rule in place, including the American Trucking Association, say the relaxed standards have helped increase productivity and moved goods faster around the country.
Reducing time behind the wheel has the potential for "widespread disruption in the industry and the supply chain," said Peter Graves, the association's chief executive officer.
The Arlington, Va.-based group stated that a 4.7 percent decline last year in accidents involving trucks, the largest drop in 14 years, demonstrates that keeping the 11-hour day will not diminish highway safety.
Rick Todd, president of the S.C. Trucking Association, said the industry is collecting data to establish if there's any difference in the accident rate involving truck drivers in the 10th and 11th hours. "So far we're not seeing any difference," he said.
But those who want to limit truckers to 10 hours a day disagree.
Each year, more than 5,000 people are killed and more than 110,000 injured in large truck crashes, according to Public Citizen. Driver fatigue is a major contributor to severe crashes, the group states, and after eight hours of driving, the risk of a truck driver having a crash begins to increase rapidly.
"The trucking profession has become 'sweatshops on wheels' because of the excessive and unsafe hours of work and driving time required of truck drivers," said Daphne Izer, founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers, in a statement after the July court ruling.
Truckers play a pivotal role in the increasingly global economy, hauling about 80 percent of all goods in the United States. Without them, store shelves would be empty, production would bottleneck at seaports and factories, and costs to businesses and consumers likely would increase.
But curtailing the driving hours isn't the only new mandate bearing down on the industry.
Efforts are under way to require all tractor-trailers be fitted with built-in speed governors set at a maximum of 68 mph. The measure would affect all trucks manufactured after 1990 and weighing more than 13 tons. Regulators became standard equipment on trucks built after 1991.
Also, the nation's estimated 750,000 maritime industry workers, including tens of thousands of truckers, soon will be required to carry a high-tech federal identification card known as a TWIC.
Without a TWIC, or Transportation Worker Identification Credential, workers won't be allowed to enter their job sites at sea, air or land transportation facilities.
The maritime- and transportation-related industries largely support the initiative even though each card will cost truckers or their employers about $137. The government has not announced when the program will be rolled out in Charleston.
With profit margins already tight, the potential implications are likely to affect trucking firms of all sizes, said Pat Barber, owner of Superior Transportation in Charleston and president of the Charleston Motor Carriers Association.
Add to that an estimated driver shortage of 20,000 people that is projected to reach 110,000 in seven years, rising fuel costs, tighter environmental requirements and the prospect of cheaper operators crossing the border from Mexico. It's no small wonder the industry is feeling cornered, he said.
"All these things are coming together at once like a perfect storm," Barber said.
http://www.charleston.net/news/2007/sep ... ions15216/We have immigration laws that just need to be enforced.
- 09-09-2007, 11:19 AM #2
The perfect set up for the NAU. Push Americans out of a job and bring in cheap foreign labor. American Truck Companies who are not already in Mexico will be their soon.