Hours of Service a Top Concern for the Trucking Industry.
American Trucking Research Institute Study
According to an 2014 ATRI study regarding the top critical issues in the trucking industry, hours of service tops the list. The hours-of-service issue has been on the top ten list since 2005 and its ranking has been closely tied to the impacts of federal rulemaking, regulation change, rule vacating and new rulemaking.The survey also included proposed strategies for each concern. For this article we will only be covering the Hours of Service issue.
The first proposed strategy was to suspend restart provisions implemented July 1, 2013 until true safety and economic impacts are documented and understood. Nearly 70 percent (69.2%) of respondents favored this strategy which was recently debated in the U.S. Senate as a potential strategy for reducing the negative economic impacts of the new rules. Some argue that the rules need to be suspended while additional research is conducted to better understand the economic impacts of the new rules and to quantify the safety impacts of rules that FMCSA’s own research. While others favor pushing more drivers to drive during daytime hours.
Over 21% preferred the second strategy for increased flexibility in the current sleeper berth provision. Since 2005, when HOS rule changes limited the flexibility in the sleeper berth provision, drivers have commented that the sleeper berth rules are too restrictive and do not allow them the flexibility to rest when they are tired.
NOTE: The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 was enacted on December 16, 2014, suspending enforcement of requirements for use of the 34-hour restart. For more information see FMCSA’s Federal Register notice: hours service drivers update – See more at: www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-of-service
The Fiscal Year 2015 Appropriations bill, signed by President Obama suspends certain HOS rules that went into effect on July 1, 2013. Once signed by the President, the bill will become law and the restart rules from June 30, 2013, will apply immediately.
While on the road drive time has always remained the same — a maximum allowable time of 11 hours per day — two specific rules will be suspended until at least September 30, 2015. These changes now allow drivers to restart their clock more than once per week and use any consecutive 34-hour time period as a 34-hour restart. The requirement to include two 1:00-5:00 a.m. time periods is eliminated.
Lifting the suspension
The suspension is based on the need for two studies to be completed by DOT and the DOT Inspector General regarding the net cost and safety benefits of the regulations. According to the new law, the suspension will not be lifted until both studies are complete and September 30, 2015, has passed. Even if both reports are completed earlier than anticipated, the regulations cannot be reinstated until after September 30.
The new law’s language is not clear about the outcomes of the two reports. As it currently reads, the re-introduction of the July 1, 2013, rules is tied to the issuance of the two reports, not necessarily the conclusions of those reports. Look for confusion later this summer about whether the restart provisions will be reinstated or not.
How will this impact your business?
As with any new change, confusion about the suspended regulations could impact the timeliness of your freight deliveries. Adjusting to the changes will vary by carrier, depending on how they record HOS and how quickly electronic logging device (ELD) vendors can update their software.
- Two HOS regulations have been suspended until at least September 30, 2015.
- Maximum on the road drive time is still 11 hours per day.
- Drivers can now restart their clocks more than once per week.
- Drivers can use any consecutive 34-hour time period as a 34-hour restart; it does not need to include two 1:00-5:00 a.m. periods.
- While the rules are suspended, two studies will be conducted determining the net cost and safety benefits of the regulations.
Hours of service weren’t the only concerns, here is the complete list of top 10 concerns:
1. Hours of service
2. Driver shortage
4. Driver retention
5. ELD mandate
6. Truck Parking
8. Driver Health/Wellness
10. Driver distraction
Stay tuned for more updates on the hours of service ruling in September as well as other top trucking concerns.