Personal Injury

Truck safety enforcers say hours of service changes may backfire

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) has voiced strong objections to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposed Hours of Service (HOS) rule changes, saying that the new rules are overly complex and could actually backfire, reducing commercial motor vehicle safety.

The comments, published on the FMCSA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Hours of Service, were submitted by the CVSA – an alliance of authorities responsible for enforcing truck safety regulations on all levels from local and state to federal. The group said the proposed changes may “open the door toward more drivers falsifying their records” than anything.

“Each year, CVSA certified inspectors conduct nearly four million inspections all across North America which provides CVSA with an unmatched level of real-world experience in commercial driver and vehicle safety,” said CVSA’s Executive Director Stephen A. Keppler. “The consensus from our state and jurisdictional enforcement members regarding these proposed rules is that they are confusing and not easily understood. The proposed rules, in our view, will be more difficult to enforce roadside than the rules in place today.”

The rule changes also come when regulatory agencies are facing massive budget cuts. Instead of adding to and complicating the work of safety enforcement authorities, the CVSA says the FMCSA should be exploring ways to enhance and improve safety enforcement.

While many safety advocates argue that the proposed rule changes don’t go far enough to mitigate the problem of fatigued drivers, others suggest the new HOS rules would have almost no benefit in preventing drivers from getting sleepy behind the wheel and might actually promote aggressive driving and increase traffic during peak hours.

CVSA also suggests that the FMCSA is attempting to fix what isn’t broken by instituting new rules when commercial motor vehicle safety is at an all-time high. Many analysts attribute the recent drop in commercial truck crashes to the economic slump and lowered demand for trucking, but some organizations have argued that those who do not believe the current HOS rules are at least partly responsible for these safety improvements have to admit that the rules did not harm the safety record.