Why does FMCSA need fixing?

By Steve Bixler, OOIDA Life Member

Here's just one reason, but for me it's at the top of the list. In 1935, the federal government passed the Motor Carrier Act to begin regulating trucking. In 1939, the first hours-of-service rules were enacted.

When the HOS rules were first written, they were meant to protect drivers from unscrupulous motor carriers that were literally driving their drivers into the ground by forcing them to work dangerously long hours to deliver the freight.

The saying was, "If you can't handle it, we will get someone who can." These rules remained in place, basically unchanged (and working well), for the next 65 years or so.

Around that time, some public interest groups and mega-carriers decided these rules were no longer good enough, and started to pressure the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to make changes.

Eleven years, and many changes later, those rules are not for drivers anymore.

We now have in place a system that allows these same unscrupulous carriers to micromanage their drivers to the point where they are, once again, literally driving the drivers into the ground.

By using ELDs, these carriers monitor the trucks by the minute and can constantly communicate with the driver to keep him moving for every available minute of driving time. There is no flexibility for the driver to make informed choices based on traffic, weather or driver fitness. We are expected to start at a prescribed time and put in our 14-hour day with no delays or breaks, other than those mandated by FMCSA, regardless of what we as drivers see to be safest.

Mandating ELDs is a terrible rule. And as anyone using them can tell you, you can cheat anyway. If FMCSA truly wants to make it safe for us on the road, we – not our employers – must have the ability to choose when it is best and safest for us to do our job.

If FMCSA truly wants to do what is right, they need to set up a panel of actual truck drivers to help fix the regulations as we are the people who truly know what works safely, and what doesn't.LL