OOIDA's Spencer speaks out for drivers

By Jami Jones, senior editor

“Our guys don’t drive desks; they drive trucks.”

That’s how OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer kicked off the Association’s comments at the FMCSA hours-of-service listening session held in mid-February in Arlington, VA.

Spencer reminded the panel – which included FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro – that there were two recurring themes in driver comments during the previous listening sessions. Those were the need for flexibility and the role shippers and receivers play in driver schedules.

He highlighted an OOIDA survey of its membership on HOS, telling the panel that members overwhelmingly “are not happy with” any reduction in driving time, mandatory breaks and the two required overnights in the 34-hour restart.

He also questioned the necessity of even trying to change the HOS regulations.

“Over-the-road trucks have never been safer,” he told the panel. “Your own most recent safety data reflects that fatigue is only involved in 1.4 percent of all fatal wrecks. I would think that you consider that a tremendous success.”

Spencer challenged that the proposed regulations – without the needed flexibility – would actually run counter to improving highway safety.

“Flexibility is needed because drivers have to work around the schedules of everyone else in the supply chain,” Spencer said.

One OOIDA member, Mike Miller of LaCrosse, KS, who talked to the panel later in the day, highlighted that need for flexibility. He owns a 21-truck operation that hauls four different types of freight – ranging from heavy-haul to livestock.

“(HOS) for us is not a one-size-fits-all,” he told the panel.

He also noted that the reduction in on-duty time will cost his operation 37 days of productivity a year – forcing him to buy two trucks and hire two drivers just to maintain current revenue levels.

Those comments followed Spencer’s parting shot to the panel.

In closing out his comments, Spencer told the panel that in considering the revisions to the regulations, the comments that should matter most are the ones of the people the regulation will directly affect.

“Comments that should have most relevance to the agency and reflected in the final rule should be from the drivers that are affected by hours of service,” he said. LL