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ATA Pressing FMCSA for More Flexible HOS Rules

The ATA (American Trucking Associations) believes it’s time the government adopt a more flexible approach to federal hours-of-service rules. In a recent petition presented to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the ATA says the government needs to recognize that every commercial driver’s situation is unique.

a5ffa786-ff01-11ed-be89-0223a10775aaSpecifically, the ATA is pointing to the circumstances facing port truckers, who often wait hours before actually hitting the road. The expansion of automotive telematics systems, which allow drivers and carriers to electronically track fleet activity, have provided the ATA with data showing that port truckers are often stuck waiting at busy ports like Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Curtis Whalen, a director at the ATA, says this information will “underscore the validity of the request” for flexibility when it comes to hours-of-service rules. “The amount of time actually driving will be surprisingly low, I think we’ll find,” Whalen added. “And most of the day when drivers’ hours-of-service clocks are ticking, they’re probably on port property moving nowhere.”

According to Whalen, the government’s flexibility on this issue would go a long way towards alleviating congestion at critical Pacific coast ports. This is currently the peak season at these ports as freight movement ramps up for the holiday season.

Whalen says he hopes the FMCSA will move quickly to introduce new rules affecting truck drivers who frequently visit the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles. Looking down the road, Whalen hopes similar waivers will become available to drivers frequently visiting eastern ports, like New York, New Jersey, and Virginia.

Whalen believes the best approach is to write up petitions for every port and he insists that a speedy resolution to the problem would be beneficial for everyone involved. “We’ve got a crisis brewing here right now,” he says. “Truckers in most cases are stuck in the middle, not making any money.”