The long-delayed highway bill finally became a reality when President Bush signed the $286 billion legislation. The good news for logistics professionals is that a fuel surcharge provision was dropped from the final bill. This provision would have required the imposition of fuel surcharges set by the Department of Transportation.
However, those shippers hoping or expecting to see the current 2003 Hours of Service rules codified into the highway bill were disappointed. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has reportedly submitted a revision of the rules to the White House’s budget office for review.
While the details of the new rules have not yet been released, John Ficker, president of the National Industrial Transportation League (NITL), believes it likely that either the split-sleeper berth provision will be dropped or the 34-hour restart – or maybe both. The FMCSA was ordered by the Federal Court of Appeals to directly address driver health in its rules. Although the Court threw the 2003 rules out, those rules were temporarily reinstated by Congress, pending the FMCSA’s revision.
“While Congress included several initiatives that we believe will improve highway safety, we are disappointed that they failed to codify hours of service regulations as the Administration requested. We remain concerned that Congress’ inaction on Hours of Service will negatively impact overall highway safety,” says Bill Graves, president of the American Trucking Associations (ATA).