Regulations governing the trucking industry can be contentious. All parties wish to make sure that drivers can do their job. Everyone also wants to make sure that the roads remain safe and accidents are minimized.
While this is true in general, when it comes to specific ideas about how to keep the roads safe and truck drivers well-rested, differences of opinion often arise. Many truckers have a differing perspective than traffic safety experts who have never driven a truck for a living. The same is true of the difference in viewpoint between those who regulate the industry and trucker organizations. This is why many regulations are continuously fought over by both sides, even after they have been in place for several years.
In a move that did not surprise many, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has decided to officially deny a petition to rescind the thirty-minute break required for truck drivers.
Who wants such a “common sense” law changed, and why?
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is one of the industry’s most outspoken organizations. They represents many truck and bus inspectors across North America. Their membership roster includes national and state inspectors, as well as those who serve as local field inspectors.
The break requirement has been in place since July 1, 2013. Officials at Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance feel there are many flaws with this law, which make it hard to enforce and therefore virtually worthless. They filed a petition last year, asking officials to reconsider the regulations saying that it creates more problems that it solves.
Those at the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance offered the argument that the law cannot really be enforced. They also insist that drivers are simply falsifying their duty logs and ignoring the regulation. Ultimately, they argue that such rules contribute little to the overall safety of the roads and only encourage drivers to engage in unlawful behavior.
Disagreement with regulations
Officials at the FMCSA, however, fully disagree with the attacks made against the requirement. Their disagreements were made visible in a letter sent to organization, which is available to the public. In the letter, the FMCSA offered a defense of the many benefits of the 30-minute break requirement, indicating their belief that keeping such a regulation in place will continue to help make the roads safer for all drivers. The rebuff also pointed out that the August 2013 ruling has been upheld by U.S. Appeals Court as entirely constitutional, as well as fair under current laws.
Agency officials offered an important statement as well, stating, “The agency stand by its 2011 preamble and finds no merit in CVSA’s challenge to the value of the 30-minute rest break requirement.” In their view, the mere belief that the rules may be hard to enforce does not mean they should be abandoned.
Officials at the agency also pointed out that the data is unclear regarding regulations being difficult to enforce. They believe the required thirty-minute break will clearly offer safety benefits for all concerned by helping drivers avoid fatigue when they are faced with long routes.
Looking at prior data
In order to back up their argument in support of maintaining the break regulations, the FMCSA points to improved safety data gathered over the past three years, since the regulation was put into effect. They further contend that the number of violations entered during roadside inspections does not indicate that inspectors find it difficult to enforce or discover drivers who don’t adhere to the rules.