President's Report


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released new hours-of-service rules last week that increase driving time from 10 to 11 hours, increase rest time from 8 to 10 hours, and reduce on-duty time from 15 to 14 hours.  The rules technically take effect in 60 days, but will not be implemented until January 1, 2004.  In the meantime, the Teamsters' Safety and Health Department is analyzing the new regulations that defy studies showing fatigue already affecting drivers before 10 hours driving time.  Bus drivers were excluded from the new rules.  Maybe cargo is more precious than people to this Administration!  More on this later.


The long-awaited regulations requiring criminal background checks for drivers who haul hazardous materials (have a hazmat endorsement) were recently released.  They are heavily influenced by the Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives Bureau (ATF), which was pushing for disqualifications that are more stringent for drivers, although the look-back period has been shortened to 7 years from other industry standards of 10 years.  The rule does provide an appeal process for cases in which the database information is incorrect, and waivers are considered under certain circumstances, but unfortunately, these are not the due process protections that the Teamsters, and other affiliates, have been pushing Congress to enact.  The background check info will be kept out of the hands of the employers, a provision the IBT had proposed.  Drivers will begin to undergo name checks through the FBI databases almost immediately.  Within 180 days, current drivers applying for renewal, and all new applicants, must provide fingerprints.  You may have to visit your local police department since most state DMVs are not equipped to take your prints.  Drivers concerned about their background checks will have 120 days to surrender their hazmat endorsement (not CDL), with no questions asked.  At least that's what they say!  While this rule was published as an interim final rule, the IBT will submit comments concerning the due process protections and other flaws in the regulations.
       Bill Lichtenwald
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