January 25, 2011 5:30 PM, EST

ATA, Coalition Ask Congress for Hearing on Proposed HOS Rule

Group Cites ‘Negative Impact’ on Economy

A coalition including American Trucking Associations, other groups and several large trucking companies has asked a key congressional panel for a hearing on a proposed new federal hours-of-service rule, saying the changes would have a “negative impact” on the U.S. economy.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued its proposed HOS rule in late December and is accepting public comments through the end of February.

As proposed, the rule “would further restrict the time truck drivers may drive and be on duty,” the letter stated. It was sent to Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), the new chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and several other key lawmakers on that committee.

A committee hearing before the Feb. 28 close of comments “would help bring attention to the real impacts of the rule and give members the opportunity to question both [FMCSA] and the business community about its impacts,” the letter said.

Several carriers and shipper groups, including the National Industrial Transportation League, have said the rules are too complex and would confound carriers, shippers and enforcement officials alike.

“If implemented, the regulations would have a substantial, negative impact on productivity and the economy,” the letter said, adding that carriers “would need to put additional trucks and drivers on the road to deliver the same amount of freight, adding to final product costs and increasing congestion on the nation’s already clogged highways,” the letter said.

ATA President Bill Graves said after the rule was released that it is “overly complex, chock full of unnecessary restrictions on professional truck drivers and, at its core, would substantially reduce trucking’s productivity.”

Besides ATA, the letter was signed by NITL, the National Retail Federation, the Steel Manufacturers Association, the Transportation Intermediaries Association and other groups. Trucking companies that signed included UPS Inc., FedEx Corp., YRC Worldwide and Con-way Inc.

The letter is posted on NITL’s website. [PDF]