Hours of Service in the Trucking Industry

Murray Pratt Blog, Business Insights Leave a Comment

Regulations continue to be a battleground between the US Department of Transportation and the trucking industry – primarily represented by the American Trucking Association (ATA).

Hours of Service have also become a gridlocked political issue between a Republican House of Representatives and an activist Democratic presidency.

While both sides agree with the ends – making the nation’s highways safer – when it comes to Hours of Service regulations, they can’t agree on the ‘means.’

The Hours of Service regulations have been delayed/suspended pending a study that will prove that they work – that clause inside a couple of omnibus spending bills that have been sent to the President for approval.

The Hours of Service debate strikes a chord on two fronts.

It hits a philosophical divide between those who feel that you simply can’t regulate ‘common sense.’ A professional driver knows best when he can and when he cannot drive. This argument says that complex regulations override this common sense and will result in undue government intervention in an already regulated industry. And a ‘one-size’ fits all Hours of Service regulation is unworkable.

On the other side, there are concerns of the travelling public who worry that over-wrought, over-taxed drivers may push themselves beyond their physical limits and present a danger on the nation’s roadways.

It also strikes a fundamental economic issue. The investment in Hours of Service technology is seen as just another in a series of additional costs inflicted on the small trucking companies and owner operators who are already struggling to operate profitably.

To this group, the Hours of Service regulation represents just another obstacle for them in making a decent dollar for themselves and for their families. They feel that Hours of Service regulations play to the bigger companies who can afford to invest in a new Hours of Service technology, further weeding out the ‘small independents’ in favor of the bigger trucking concerns.

The Hours of Service issue is unlikely to be resolved soon. It sits on the battlegrounds of individual liberty and economic interest, and the combatants seem unlikely to back down on this one.

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