Hours proposal bad for small business, trucking executive tells Congress

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In testimony before the House Small Business Committee Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations, James Burg, president of James Burg Trucking Co., said proposed changes to the federal hours-of-service were unwarranted and would harm small businesses nationwide.

“These changes, if finalized, would have a profoundly negative impact on small businesses, would restrict productivity and would result in greater congestion and increased emissions,” said Burg, a member of American Trucking Associations’ board of directors, said during a June 14 hearing.

The current hours-of-service rules, which have been in effect since January 2004, made four primary changes to the regulations then in place: increasing the daily driving limit from 10 hours to 11 hours; increasing the required minimum daily rest from 8 hours to 10 hours; decreasing the number of hours on duty after which a driver may not operate a commercial motor vehicle from 15 hours to 14 hours; and allowing a driver to “reset” the weekly 60 or 70-hour on duty limits with 34 consecutive hours off duty.

Under the current proposal, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is, among other changes, considering whether to reduce the daily driving limit from 11 hours to 10 hours and has proposed to limit the 34-hour restart provision by requiring that it include two periods from midnight to 6 a.m. and limiting its use to once per week.

Burg said that if the changes proposed by FMCSA following a court settlement with advocacy and labor groups were to take effect, his 75-truck fleet based in Warren, Mich., would need to “add additional trucks and drivers – and their corresponding expenses – simply to counter the loss in productivity.”

“By estimates, we would need to increase our retained earnings by between 20 percent and 25 percent just to maintain our current level of financial stability,” said Burg, who added that productivity losses also would “likely be felt by small business shippers, manufacturers and retailers in the form of increased costs.” ATA has said that the current rules are working and should be retained rather than changed based on political pressure.

“FMCSA’s proposed changes to the hours-of-service rules are unnecessary and unjustified,” Burg said. “Both safety and compliance have improved under the current regulations, which have been time-tested since 2003. In contrast, FMCSA’s proposal to replace these rules with an untested set of regulations leaves safety to chance.”