Letters: CSA 2010 (Cont.’d), Postal Service & HOS, Broker Bonds

These Letters to the Editor appear in the April 26 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

CSA 2010 (Cont.’d)

Regarding electronic logs and Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010, if they want to regulate this industry, they should just do it and make sure we get paid — and get us hourly and overtime pay (“FMCSA Delays CSA 2010,” 4-12, p. 1; click here for previous story).

I have invested tens of thousands of dollars in a career no longer worth having. How would the people directing these changes like to clock out for every bathroom break and not get overtime?



While spending half the day getting drug-tested at some clinic in Oklahoma, I realized that I simply don’t get paid enough to deal with the nonsense in this job anymore. I got back to my home, and now I am getting e-logs put into the truck I own, which now is worth less to me.

I think the people directing these changes don’t understand why trucking has become a career not worth having, with not enough money and too much nonsense. I will go back to school or find some other job, and they can keep working with the homeless trucking population.

Anyone with any pride and choice will get the hell out of this business as soon as possible. I feel like I made a huge mistake buying a truck — and “good luck” selling it to anyone who can afford it. What is the point investing in an industry with all these rules and no money?

Charles M.
Owner-Operator
St. Paul, Minn.

Postal Service & HOS

Our company operates mail transportation contracts for the U.S. Postal Service with 45 drivers and 30 power units. None of our trips leaves the state of Michigan, and none is more than 100 air miles, meaning no logbooks and our drivers are home every day. Our trips serve the same offices day after day, on a regular schedule.

Without a doubt, the 2004 hours-of-service rewrite has affected our operation more significantly than any other regulation in this decade.

Before 2004, drivers could substitute for each other because of illness, vacations, etc., after being off duty for eight hours. When the rule changed to 10 hours, our schedules, for the most part, remained the same. As a result, the ability of our drivers to sub for each other was greatly reduced.

That reduction has left us to rely on a succession of casual drivers of variable reliability. Some are dependable, and some may work if they feel like it.

The expense involved with this constant turnover includes U.S. Postal Service security screening (a costly procedure), as well as new-hire training, physicals and drug testing.

In addition, several of our veteran drivers working split shifts (who were fine for years under the eight-hour rule) were reduced to part-time status — even though they were within 10 or 15 minutes of being off for 10 hours. Most in this situation left the company, reducing the number of full-timers and creating more part-timers.

The safety improvements associated with the HOS rules are undeniable. We believe that it is also possible to balance safety goals with any unintended consequences to businesses like ours.

Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has made no study comparing the relative safety of longhaul and shorthaul (no logging) trips, it has decided that certain shorthaul trips are safe enough to be exempt from logbook requirements.

As part of its current HOS review, FMCSA should allow shorthaul carriers to return to the eight hours off rule and lessen this unnecessary burden on small businesses, which can be done without sacrificing today’s safety levels.

Art Taylor
President
Taylor Postal Contracting
Jackson, Mich.

Broker Bonds

I am a transportation management consultant and a freight broker instructor affiliated with Houston Community College. The Transportation Intermediaries Association has been working with Congress and is willing to accept a raise in the property broker bond to $100,000 from $10,000. This increase would be a big mistake and would have a devastating effect on the industry as a whole, especially the interests of small brokers and independent owner-operators.

TIA President Robert Voltmann took the right position in 2004 when he wrote: “There has been some debate lately about increasing the broker bond from $10,000 — to as much as $500,000 — in order to protect motor carriers and shippers. Increasing the bond, however, will not achieve the results desired by those seeking the increase” (5-10-2004, p. 7).

It would appear it is time for a new trade group to protect the interests of the “little guys” in brokering, much like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association looks out for owner-operators.

I invite small property brokers and agents to join a new “Association of Independent Property Brokers and Agents.” Affiliate memberships will be available for carriers of all sizes shortly.

James Lamb
President
DOTAuthority.com
Commack, N.Y.

 

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