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Senate Committee Hearing on the State of the Trucking Industry

 

On Tuesday, February 4, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety held a hearing titled “Keep on Truckin’: Stakeholder Perspectives on Trucking in America.” Specifically, the purpose of the hearing was to examine the state of the trucking industry in the United States, truck safety issues, and the regulatory environment from the stakeholder perspective.

Witnesses at the hearing included: Chris Spear, President and CEO, American Trucking Associations; Jake Parnell, Manager, Cattlemen’s Livestock Market and Director, Livestock Marketing Association; Lewie Pugh, Executive Vice President, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association; Dawn King, President, Truck Safety Coalition; and Sgt. John Samis, President, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

In her opening statement, Subcommittee Chair Deb Fischer (R-NE) mentioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that seeks to update the hours of service (HOS) requirements. She said that she was encouraged by the steps FMCSA has taken to make the necessary updates. In addition to the HOS regulations, Fischer mentioned other important regulations that should be discussed including the entry-level driver training rule.

There were multiple important trucking issues discussed at the hearing. In his testimony, Chris Spear spoke about the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), saying, “Compared to the outdated pen and paper methods of tracking driver hours, ELDs are a modern-day technology that have proven to be more accurate, easier to enforce, more difficult to falsify, and – most importantly – have and will continue to save lives. However, Lewie Pugh discussed in his testimony that the ELD mandate is a failure, is not necessary and should be repealed immediately.

Furthermore, in Spear’s testimony, he specifically mentioned a bill that is needed to address the truck driver shortage. Federal law currently restricts interstate trucking to CDL holders 21 years and older. However, most states allow drivers 18 or 19 and older to operate intrastate. The DRIVE-Safe Act would allow drivers 18 and older to operate across state lines, if they meet rigorous training requirements — at least 400 hours of on-duty time with 240 hours of driving time, with an experienced driver training them. Training would also be restricted to trucks equipped with active braking systems, video monitoring systems and speed limiters set to 65 mph or slower. Although drivers of petroleum would not be covered under the Drive-Safe Act, (since drivers must be 21 to qualify for a hazardous materials certification), PMAA supports the bill because it would expand the overall driver pool.

PMAA recently submitted a letter to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee urging the committee to include the DRIVE-Safe Act in their title of the upcoming surface transportation reauthorization legislation. Click here to view the letter.

FROM PMAA

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