New Hours of Service

Truckers’ New Hours of Service Could Come At a High Price for Distributors

Safer roads at a higher price?

Truck drivers may be spending less time on the road thanks to new regulations that call for a shorter workday.  According to The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), new hours of service (HOS) have been introduced in an attempt to create a safer work environment for truck drivers and others on the road.  The HOS changes work to decrease the chances of truckers feeling fatigued and overworked during their workweek.

FMCSA’s four major changes state that:

  • Truck drivers may only work 70 hours in a seven-day period opposed to the former 82 hours in a seven-day period.
  • Truck drivers may not drive more than 8 hours without taking a 30-minute break.
  • The 11-hour daily driving limit will remain. FMCSA considered reducing it to 10 hours and is still conducting research to study possible safety risks of an 11-hour daily driving limit.
  • The 34-hour restart provision was revised. Drivers who take advantage of their weekly work hours can take 34 consecutive hours off-duty to restart their work week. The new rule requires the 34 hours to include two off-duty periods between 12:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. In addition, the 34-hour restart provision may only be used once within a seven-day period.

While many senators and safety advocates support these HOS changes, many carriers do not. These changes may have negative implications for shippers.

Some of their concerns are:

  • Nighttime deliveries will be significantly reduced due to the new 34-hour restart provision. More deliveries must be made during the day, which could increase traffic at loading docks, therefore increasing wait times and lowering productivity. To avoid this, docks would need to add to their staff.
  • Less weekly work hours means less time on the road. To maintain their levels of production, carriers would need more trucks and drivers on the road, which increases their costs. In addition, fuel emissions would increase due to the rise in the number of trucks on the road.
  • Automated scheduling systems would need to be overhauled in order to abide by the new HOS rules by changing delivery and pickup schedules.

Truck drivers must comply with the new HOS rules no later than July 1, 2013. Companies that violate the 11-hour daily driving limit by three or more hours could face a fine up to $11,000 per offense, and drivers could be fined up to $2,750 per offense.

The new HOS rules are intended to help make our roads a safer place to be, however, adapting to these new rules could be expensive and could require major adjustments in operations for shippers. This safety comes at a high cost for the many carriers who bear the burden of reduced productivity and increased staff.