Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Well, that was embarrassing, wasn’t it FMCSA?

Earlier this week, I could envision truckers around the country saying out loud, “Told you so FMCSA.” The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had to admit that when it abandons a fact-based approach to regulation, the rules likely won’t stand up to scrutiny.

To catch anyone up who missed it, the inspector general signed off on a FMCSA study of the voluntary restart provision. The study shows that requiring two overnight rest periods and limiting the use of the restart did not benefit drivers.

Back in 2013, the agency added these restrictions to the voluntary restart provision. Truckers screamed that it rendered the provision useless. It forced people out on the road at times of peak congestion. It tried to mandate sleep and rest patterns. In the assessment of truck drivers, it failed.

Survey says
We can’t even give the agency credit for listening to this feedback and agreeing to study the changes. That credit goes to Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and members of Congress. They listened to truckers and mandated the study and not just any study.

Congress mandated that the agency followed accepted research protocols and submit the study and findings for review. There was little to no room for monkeying around with the numbers.

In the end, the study proved what truckers have been saying.

“The study did not explicitly identify a net benefit from the use of the two suspended provisions on driver operations, safety, fatigue and health,” the report from the inspector general to Congress states.

The two overnight rest periods and the limitation to one restart every seven days have been suspended for a couple of years now. Again, that’s thanks to Congress. Going forward, we won’t have to mess with the provisions thanks to a legislative fix in the 2017 appropriations bill.

Now, what has FMCSA learned here?
I would certainly hope that this serves as an eye-opening experience for the agency. We have seen the agency torture research into submission to support new and changes to existing regulations. We have a term for it here around OOIDA HQ: “We believe” science.

We have a final rule on electronic logs that was built on this sketchy approach. Speed limiters are being proposed using some sort of half-baked research, too. These are things that need, deserve, and should be studied thoroughly.

In fact, if FMCSA has truly taken anything away from this experience, they should tap the brakes, hit the pause button, and go back to the research drawing board.

Maybe it’s just me, but I hate to be wrong. Once is bad enough, but twice. Now, that’s just a bad day. If I were in FMCSA’s shoes, I would be saying, we now have a research approach that’s acceptable and transparent and irrefutable. Maybe we should do that all the time now.

The iron is hot, so best be striking it
Aside from personal ego, FMCSA better start rethinking its standard MO. President Trump has regulations not only on the radar but in the cross-hairs. Truckers know there are a lot of unnecessary regs on the books. We need to be loud and clear on this point.

There is absolutely no need or excuse for an agency to try and ramrod something else through right now without making dang sure it’s justified.

So it looks to me like another round of studies is in order. And, maybe even some soul searching on the motives behind regulations like electronic logs and proposed speed limiters. An honest answer probably won’t have much to do with safety, but more to do with job justification.


  1. You're so cool, Jaime.
    I'll bet you FMCSA will change not a bit the manner in which it creates rules, mandates, and stupid stuff in general.
    If this was a serious agency, it would've killed off the split limits, lane restrictions, speed limiters, and ELSe's. That would be a start.
    Your typical Gov't. agency, find the most restrictive, least safe, overestrictions it can, and pursue these.
    Good article.

    1. yes it will change when the put some people in there that knows somehing about trucking

    2. You have a better chance of Hell freezing over before that even happens. Because truck drivers can't agree on anything.

  2. Tide is changing, my people. The. Tide. Is. Changing. Let's keep it rolling!

  3. I just left trucking tuesday after forty five years of safe driving. Screw this they can have it. I want nothing to do with elogs or any of this junk going on with my chosen lifestyle. Sad and sucks.people are getting killed with those elogs. Fmcsa my ass

  4. Now they not only need to study E-Log mandates but the 14hr rule as well as the 30 min rest stop! Another thing I very much disagree on is that many of us are owner operator such as my self and they have implemented a rule that we can only operate our trucks for no more than 2hrs off duty even when we are not under a load nor even under a trailer and this is wrong. I own my truck and if I'm not under a load or a trailer for that matter my truck becomes my personal vehicle and for them to restrict us to only two hrs is not right at all. This needs to go away!!!

  5. Well yes, hope may be on the horizon. But there are perhaps an overload of unwarranted regulations that need addressed. We've allowed too much to slip by for too long. I agree with Jamie that pressure needs to be applied so that rationale thought can be applied to old and new rules.

    As with Jim, I'll be leaving this year also with forty five years. (Most likely the day ELD's become mandatory) Forty five years is a long time, mostly as an O/O, and I've seen technology come to where we never imagined it to go. But there has also been some really stupid stuff come and go.

    Watching the new so-called drivers come along with little to no common sense and how companies manipulate drivers, freight rates, fuel and parts costs, and regulations for that matter, I've had enough. The Owner/Operator will soon be along side of the mom & pop grocery stores, gas stations, hardware stores, small farmers, and yes drive-in movies. The era of quality, great service, personal contact, and pride is moving into the history books. Society is too busy to acknowledge the fact that someone worked hard so that what they want is right there when they need it.

    In the mean time, I'll keep up the pressure on my elected leaders to concentrate on the rationale of proper, and researched regulations.

  6. What can we do to get FMCSA to reevaluate ELOGS and speed limiters? what can we do to get some kind of "double jeopardy" rule? Every time these things are defeated, they make a couple minor changes and we have to fight all over again. there should be some kind of "decade long" moratorium on reinventing a reg. once a bad reg is defeated.

  7. I just wish Fmcsa could have done the research for less than

    $ 4 million

    FY 2015: $4,000,000.00

    1. It didn't they lined their pockets!

  8. Something the powers that be have not taken into account is the fact that drivers have been cheating on logs for the past fifty years or so so once the ELD becomes the law of the land there will be a massive reduction in productivity. Can the USA economy take such a hit and still survive?

    1. I'm an O/O with my own authority and before I was able to brake out on my own I was on elogs... I could cheat with the elogs better than paper, and to top it off the carrier told me how to cheat the system

    2. I'm an O/O with my own authority and before I was able to brake out on my own I was on elogs... I could cheat with the elogs better than paper, and to top it off the carrier told me how to cheat the system

  9. That 70 hours in 8 days needs to go to just make it 14 hours a day across the board just make it plain and simple 14 how's a day to work with a 10 hour reset
    I pulled into Joplin mo 3 am just exhausted my 70 hours I have to unload the next day in Columbus OH I go to sleep 3 am wake up refreshed about 11 and sit there waiting for midnight to get the hours to move by the time I get my rest and legal hours to run I'm tired but I'm legally tired and got to go where's the safety in that

    1. That's what I'm against when they started this. Our bodies are not computers. There are times that if it's just right foggy, sunny, cloudy, I just may feel sleepy and need a power nap or more. Just because you have hours to drive by computer doesn't mean you are 100% on top of game. Get rid of 14 hour clock at minimum.

  10. If you folks have been driving as long as I have, you would remember that elogs are nothing new. Back in the day, before a truck EVER left the yard, the dispatcher went to the truck WITH the driver, bills AND the paper circle that he would place inside the (for lack of a better term) the dash-mounted clock. That clock would tell the company when the truck moved, stopped, turned on and off.... Basically exact what today's ELDs do. Yet, the those drivers NEVER whined, stomped their feet and threw temper tantrums like today's drivers do. In fact....Those guys were REAL drivers who would never think of wearing pajamas while working, or wear shorts down to their knees. They had a certain amount of pride in their industry and personal appearance....A pride that is gone forever, like mom n pop's and yes, eventually us owner operators. Sad. Very sad


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