The House Highway & Transit Subcommittee held a hearing June 18, 2013 to discuss the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) “hours of service” rule, which limits the amount of time operators are allowed to drive commercial vehicles. The American Road and Transportation Builders Assocation (ARTBA) testified before the congressional subcommittee asking for an exemption for transportation construction industry drivers, indicating that they do not drive long distances at construction sites and driving time is broken up throughout the day.
“Transportation construction industry drivers are not long-haul operators who consistently spend many consecutive hours on the road in a given day. They are short-haul drivers who typically travel less than 20 miles one way,” ARTBA’s testimony said. “Many of our drivers spend substantial amounts of time off the road during the work day, loading and unloading materials or equipment. Others may be responsible for positioning a piece of mobile equipment at the beginning of the work day, but may not be back behind the wheel until day’s end, so that their daily drive time is actually minimal. Those who transport construction materials may spend substantial time in a queue to pick up or drop off those products. However, in the indiscriminate eyes of the hours of service rule, these examples of non-driving activities are still considered on-duty time and can end up prohibiting industry employees from carrying out their driving duties past 14 hours on a lengthy work day.”
The FMSCA rule would also require mandatory 30-minute breaks every eight hours for operators.
ARTBA noted that transportation construction industry commercial drivers generally do not operate in a manner that leads to concerns over fatigue and cited a lack of any conclusive data to demonstrate that driver fatigue and ancillary health issues are a significant problem in the transportation construction industry. Moreover, transportation project owners, the driving public and commercial shippers are expecting more timeliness and efficiency in the delivery of transportation improvement projects, as well as less disruption to traffic. Transportation construction firms will often work very long hours to complete these projects expeditiously, especially in regions of the country where seasonal weather is a factor.
“ARTBA and its members continue to be concerned about the wholesale application of the hours of service rule to the transportation construction industry. Contractors make every effort to comply, but often to the detriment of efficiency in the project’s time and cost. Treating short-haul transportation construction industry drivers the same as long-haul commercial truckers defies common sense. Correcting this misapplication of federal requirements is the type of regulatory reform that all sides claim to support,” the testimony said.