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Focus: Transportation Management

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From SCDigest's On-Target E-Magazine

Dec. 22 , 2011


Logistics News: New Hours of Service Rules Finally Announced


Industry Avoids Lost Hour of Driving as Feared, but Truckers Blasts Other Changes they Say Will Hurt Productivity with No Gains for Safety

SCDigest Editorial Staff


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) at long last delivered it's long overdue news rules for "Hours of Service" (HOS) in the US trucking industry, failing to reduce by one hour a driver's allowable time per as most feared by carriers and shippers, but making many other changes that have angered much of the industry. The changes, however will not take effect for 18 months.

SCDigest Says:

The fact that there is such a long phase-in period indicates to many the FMCSA sees no real safety crisis - and also leave implementation of six months beyond when a new administration might take office in 2013.
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The FMCSA, an arm of the Dept. of Transportation, announced almost one year ago to the day that it was looking at amending the rules, after having last done so in 2004. It then delayed its initial goal of delivering any changes by August of this year, after much of the industry argued the proposed changes would do little to improve safety and come at much cost to shippers.

In the end, the FMCSA decided not to change the provision most dreaded by the industry, a change in the driving time from 11 hours per day to 10, a proposal the FMCSA itself admitted it was unclear about when the proposed changes were first announced in late 2010.

However, the FMCSA noted that it will continue to conduct data analysis and research to further examine any risks associated with the 11 hours of driving time it maintained.

But while that bullet was avoided, the Administration did announce a number of other changes that will have an big impact on carriers and shippers. Those include:

• The maximum hours a driver can work per week was reduced by 12 to 70, by limiting drivers to one 34-hour restart per seven-day period.

• Requires drivers who are maxing out their weekly work allowances to take at least two nights' rest between 1 and 5 a.m. each week.

• Requires drivers to take a half-hour break after driving for eight consecutive hours.

The FMCSA presented a table which nicely summarizes the changes, though in some cases you need to connect the dots to understand what the practical impact will be.

That chart is presented below. To read the FMSCA's press release on the changes and see other details, please go the the FMCSA web site: Hours-of-Service (HOS) Final Rule (December 2011).


Source: FMSCA

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) said the new rules represented a "one-size-fits-all approach" that will do nothing to improve highway safety.

"Collectively, the changes in this rule will have a dramatic effect on the lives and livelihoods of small-business truckers. The changes are unnecessary and unwelcome and will result in no significant safety gains," said executive OOIDA vice-president Todd Spencer.

OOIDA was hoping any changes would involve more flexibility for truckers.

"Compliance with any regulation is already a challenge because everyone else in the supply chain is free to waste the driver's time loading or unloading with no accountability," said Spencer. "The hours-of-service regulations should instead be more flexible to allow drivers to sleep when tired and to work when rested and not penalize them for doing so. It's the only way to reach significant gains in highway safety and reduce non-compliance."


(Transportation Management Article Continued Below)




The American Trucking Associations was also not happy with the changes.

"Today's announcement of a new rule on the hours-of-service is completely unsurprising. What is surprising and new to us is that for the first time in the agency's history, FMCSA has chosen to eschew a stream of positive safety data and cave in to a vocal anti-truck minority and issue a rule that will have no positive impact on safety," ATA president and CEO Bill Graves said. "From the beginning of this process in October 2009, the agency set itself on a course to fix a rule that's not only not broken, but by all objective accounts is working to improve highway safety. Unfortunately, along the way, FMCSA twisted data and, as part of this final rule, is using unjustified causal estimates to justify unnecessary changes."

As it has done throughout the process, the ATA release noted that truck-related fatalities have dropped 29.9% since the current rules went into effect in 2004, even while total truck miles has increased dramatically.

"By forcing through these changes FMCSA has created a situation that will ultimately please no one, with the likely exception of organized labor," added Dan England, ATA chair and chair of C.R. England. "Both the trucking industry and consumers will suffer the impact of reduced productivity and higher costs. Also, groups that have historically been critical of the current hours of service rules won't be happy since they will have once again failed to obtain an unjustified reduction in allowable daily driving time. Further, it is entirely possible that these changes may actually increase truck-involved crashes by forcing trucks to have more interaction with passenger vehicles and increasing the risk to all drivers."

It is possible the ATA will challenge the rules in court, Graves said. There are also mechanisms by which Congress can void regulatory decisions, though the process is rarely used and seems unlikely in this case.

Mike Regan, CEO of TranzAct Technologies, told SCDigest that "Had the DOT eliminated the eleventh hour, shippers and carriers would be looking at significantly higher costs and rates."

But he added that "By shortening and adjusting the time period for the restart provision, the DOT appears to be playing King Solomon and deciding "how to split the baby." When the initial rule was proposed, DOT retained the 34 hour restart period but they changed it to mandate that this period include two consecutive periods from 12 AM to 6 AM. Carriers and shippers (rightly) noted that this was a significant change and could actually hurt safety by forcing thousands of trucks on to the roads at the start of morning rush hour."

The result, Regan says, is that the DOT "acknowledged that even though congestion impacts safety, they retained the two consecutive period requirement, although they did shorten it to 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. How much of a difference will this shortened window make? Candidly, we don't know, and we don't think the DOT knows either. So for now, truckers, get those trucks on the road at 5:00 a.m."

The fact that there is such a long phase-in period indicates to many the FMCSA sees no real safety crisis - and also leave implementation of six months beyond when a new administration might take office in 2013 - which could potentially leave to a change in thinking before the rules are implemented.

What's your take on the new HOS rules? Is leaving the 11 hour driving period the real win here? Which if any of the other changes will have a big impact? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback area below.


Recent Feedback

At this point keeping the 11 hour rule is like saying the glass is half full. With the restart provision and 70/7 it certainly carries an element of redundance. Seems to me that there is an underlying push for teams. These new changes have the least amount of impact on teams, and oddly enough one of the changes is in regards to 8 hours sleeper and 2 hours can be off duty in the passenger seat. Not too many solo drivers that will find much benefit of this new provision. As time goes on and the hos is phased in, there will be a need to fill the enourmous gap created by the reduced hours of solo drivers. Carriers will be in the position of bringing on more trucks or leaning towards teams. Without going into the economical travesty thats taking place, i think most people could see where there will be the push for teams. Any way you look at it , more trucks equal higher volume of crashes, and unexperienced teams put an entirely new meaning to driver fatigue.

Mike Rosen
owner/op (team)
Rosen Trucking inc.
Dec, 23 2011

The trucking industry is over regulated less from the issue of safety and more for political reasons. First there is no vital safety issue facing CMVs. The accident rate continues to improve despite the twisted stats of the FMCSA. This ruling is directed to union members to mandate a guaranteed two day weekend at home. It's ironic that commercial airline pilots operate with less HOS regualtions than CMV drivers. The reason again more politcs less asfety concerns. Until there is a fundamental change in the federal bureaucracy / regulatory structure, we are doomed to continue down a path paved with political favors rather than the solid foundation of logic.

J D robinson
V P HR / Safety
Lawrence Transportation Systems
Dec, 23 2011

Why there is so much focus on CMV & Truck Drivers and all this talk of data for accidents, driver fatigue and the government doing analysis costing the taxpayers money for survey after survey.? Maybe someone should focus on shippers & receivers delaying trucks to load and unload sitting for hours at each end waiting.  Having to wait is where the drivers get tired and frustrated.

Hey FMCSA, LETS regulate the shippers and receivers!  Not the drivers!  if they didn't have to sit hours on end, they would have been driving and when tired would have the time to sleep.  Delays on the loading and unloading here is where the problem lie.  Most drivers are smart enough to shut it down when tired & don't need the government telling them when they need to sleep. TOO MANY OFFICIALS  don't pay attention to the guys that are actually out there on the road trying to do their jobs. What about those 4 wheelers out there driving fatigued and cutting off the trucks! AND of course it's always the truckers fault , they must be tired!!!  


Diane Marchand
H&D America
Dec, 27 2011

The changes made will only hurt my drivers. We are hotshot operators who needs to be able to run during the time that they want us off the road. This does not make sense because most of the traffic will be of the road during these times.

Phillip Abernathy
Mtl Inc. Dba Abernthy farms transport
Dec, 27 2011

Sounds like team driving is being forced. Companies send too many new drivers on the road without the proper experience. Someone should ride with drivers for a period of time and note just how badly public drivers act toward the trucks (cutting them off, not allowing them to move from the right lane when needed,etc.). Just turn on the news and listen to the reports given (accident involving truck) however, with no mention about it being the cars fault. Too many people blame trucks without knowing the real reason. People need to realize that trucks can't stop on a dime with cars pulling out quickly in their paths, so this has nothing to do with the trucker's fatigue.

Private Owner
Self Employed
Dec, 27 2011

Like our Congress, the FMCSA has been a disgrace to those it was intended to serve. How can this redundant behavior continue? Is there nothing the Commercial Trucking Industry can do to help remedy this mindless dilemma. Our government continues to neuter this once great and proud country with underhanded political maneuvers and poor vision and look the other way when the destructive consequences are realized. If any business enterprise on this planet ran its affairs like our governing body has for so many years we would all be tranformed back in time to when our ancestors were hunters and gathers living in caves. I'm not giving up and pray for a "messiah." I'm looking for answers and approachability from those seriously looking to make changes.

Reid Hawley
Hawley Transport Services, Inc.
Dec, 27 2011

The real disaster is the change to the 34 hour restart provision. The chart you posted said that the restart must take place in the driver's home terminal. How is this realistic for ANY OTR driver? In all honesty, it requires in almost every situation for the OTR driver to revert to the old rules from before 2004 where the driver must use the recap and "earn back" hours at midnight from before the previous 8th day. What is the point of the 34 hour restart then? Drivers who are in their home terminal typically would take home time for a few days anyway, so how does forcing an OTR driver to reset in their "home terminal" benefit the driver? The 34 hour restart provision was the BEST part of the change in 2004, and it is a shame that they messed with it.

Ben Hardy
Dependable Fast Freight LLC
Dec, 27 2011

We are a Canadian Trucking company that runs 75% of our miles in the United states and see a major increase in DOT paper work inspections. We can see without a doubt it's not about safety its about taking their power to the max and treating the truck driver terribly!!  We have the officers look our logs over for up to a hour sometimes and when they can't find anything wrong the officer normally talks down to the driver!! Our drivers are paid a lot more then a DOT officer yet get treated disrespectfully by them.... TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT!!!

Gordon Speers
Integrity In Motion, INC
Dec, 27 2011

The real issue is the shippers,receivers, brokers,and big fleet companies are ignoring the fact that the drivers are disrespected by holding trucks at these faculaties from 3 to 8 hours while getting loaded or unloaded without pay or a care in the world about HOS;  it seems they don't even know about HOS.

Donald Thomas Madieros
DRL Transport Company
Dec, 27 2011

If my math & memory serves me right, dictating a rest period of 1 hour a day could cost a driver $113.75 per week if he is paid by the mile. We just spent a bunch of money to give him $40 a week which we robbed from Social Security. So with the governments help, the driver loses $73.75 per week. Most drivers know when they need a break. Some only require a 15 minute break others an hour. Maybe we need to look at DOT and see when their breaks are and how many hours they spend on duty? Has anyone done a study on DOT?

Steve Teeple
Dec, 27 2011

First off, the chart shows it must be done in the home terminal time zone, NOT the home terminal.

Second, When can someone else tell me when I am tired? NEVER! They need to go back to the 8 and 10 rules that we had years ago. That way a driver can rest when needed, use the restroom without losing money or be the person in control of his vehicle. All these changes just put a hardship on the drivers because their wages keep getting cut if their wheels are not spinning.

Also, we need to do something about the brokers taking 15% to 60% of the load pay for shuffling paper. The brokers need to go back to 3% fee for all loads and more money to the truck to operate and then the truck owners could afford to pay a driver their true worth. Until the real problems are addressed we will never see an improvement in the trucking industry. 1. Limit broker fees 2. Allow drivers to sleep when they are tired. 3. Punish shippers and receivers for delays.

Larry Baty
Baty Professional Dispatch Services
Dec, 27 2011

If and when they implement the double 34 hrs time and only one restart in 7 days, I will just simply shut it down. There is no way that you can run contract unscheduled freight with this schedule. My current runs to west coast would only alow me to operate on a 3 to 4 days per week. I would no longer be able support the cost that has continuely gone up. In many cases we are running trips at 1960 rates with a 2011 cost and this cannot continue or it will put at least 60% of present owner/operators out of business. I really fear that if this does not stop, that we are going to see a major revolution in this country and that would not be good for anyone. It would appear that our leaders in DC have totally lost sight of what made this country great. The new rulings if they go into effect will put at least 35 to 40% more trucks on the road, it will increase at least 15 to 20% more accidents in congested areas due to lack of flexability. Freight rates will probably increase at least 30 to 50% in most areas. I certainly will be praying that this will not happen.

Barry Vun Cannon
Naco LLC
Dec, 27 2011

SEEMS LIKE A GOOD LAW TO MAKE NEW MONEY FOR GOVERNMENT AGAIN OFF TRUCKERS THAT HAS FAMILIES TO SUPPORT AND HIGH PRICES ON EVERYTHING EXCEPT FREIGHT. GO FMSCA! Seems like someone is working against truckers and not towards safety. Each drivers body is performing differently,(age, health, weight, stress, etc.)  For example, when I drove I sometimes needed an hour nap in afternoon and there were times when I could drive safely straight through the night. But seems like new H.O.S. law is telling us that we can COMMAND our bodies when to drive and when to sleep. I need to learn how to do that. I still find old HOS law to be very productive when you consider dividing your sleep in 4 hours legally, giving you an option to go rest when you really need it. I also like how they are blaming illegal narcotics and allowing dogs inside truck cabs and then looking for McDonalds receipts that might not match dirving times, instead of looking for drugs. I sometimes think that wouldnt be wonderful to have a family HOS lawmaker to drive a big companies truck for 5 years or so and then decide on HOS? It makes me sometimes think that there are no truck drivers in FMSCA. New HOS will definitely increase all US goods prices in my opinion since it would take longer to transport or will require a team operation that will cost more for trucks. A Very Merry Christmas and Happy new 2012 year to all safe truck drivers out there!

safety/fleet manager
T.G.R. Logistics,
Dec, 28 2011

I have been in the trucking industry for 32+ years now and it keeps getting worse and worse out here. We the drivers are being ruled and regulated to death and is the only profession I know that a person works for free. We do not get paid for pre & post trip inspections, fueling, paperwork, shop time and waiting time to load and unload. WHY DOESN'T "RAY LAHOOD" MAKE A PITCH TO THE POLITICANS TO FORCE SHIPPERS AND CONSIGNEES TO PAY DRIVERS FOR THEIR TIME BEING HELD UP ON THEIR PROPERTY? I am all in favor with the new hours and in fact working LESS HOURS provided I can make the same amount of money or more. I sit and listen to the drivers my age in the "travel centers" talking about how it used to be back in the day when trucking was fun and you enjoyed being out there. This country is going to suffer when we all retire because most of the drivers are coming to that age.

John S. Robertd
Anywhere Anytime Contractor/Towing
Dec, 28 2011

I agree the new rule does not help at all in safety. Instead it will create more incidents down the road when drivers in the effort to make good time are driving while they are drowsy and not be able to pull over to rest, because they run out of hours. The only way to reduce crashes will be if drivers are allowed to rest when they are fatigued and drive when they are well rested. Period. And I’d like to also add some time for when we spend hours stuck in traffic due to a road closed or because of an accident or whatever reason - that is driving time lost. Is there any rule about that?

marlon rivas
small company owner
mr trucking
Dec, 28 2011

Adjust and create a way to still make a living the FMCSA is part of the government in a struggling economy with high unemployment rates.  They will manipulate the rules to tap into an industry like trucking to fix problems like unemployment.  More trucks more drivers at the home terminal will enforce your almighty dispatchers to get you home by law rather than their word. Many of company drivers complain about getting home so on the bright side they have to get home. For the independent OTR driver who stays on the road, find dedicated freight lanes and KEEP ON TRUCKING!

Billy Williams
Jan, 01 2012

This is what you get when politicians and bureaucrats attempt to make regulations for an industry they know little or nothing about. They do what they want, mostly driven by money and special interest groups. How sad for a great and vital industry. It looks like the FMCSA is trying to throw everybody a bone and not really looking at safety or productivity.

Nevin G. VanRiper
OTR Driver
American Transport
Jan, 02 2012

Seriously? Truck related Fatality down 29.9% ? So all the modern technology, driver training and reduced speeds had NOTHING to do with it? It was all HOS? Humorous! And the New 1-5am requirement?  There are only so many parking places in America right now, and those became smaller when we changed things back in '04 forcing trucks into the spaces at night because "Drivers Needed Their Biological Clocks in tune." 

So NOW 2-5 million trucks are all going to be heading to the stops ALL AT THE SAME TIME trying to fight for a space, which at times can take up to 30 minutes for some of the newbies still learning to back in...Ever see a traffic jam in a stop?..NOT a pretty sight! My clock was just fine parking at 3-4 pm and heading out at 2-3am to make my assigned delivery at 7-9am...It was how I planned my runs... Talk about dropping the ball!!

James Flindt
Out of the cab but climbing back in soon
Jan, 02 2012

I was looking over some of the feedback and one thing caught my eye...MORE than several of the contributors are Presidents, V.P's or somehow in charge yet they are mostly saying punish the shipper/receiver for holding us up...Well folks..YOU are the people that can do that...Demand solid times or pull your trucks! If you ALL Did this, Someone will get the hint! You want the truck at have 1 hour from dock bump to door closure to have the trailer loaded or there is a charge for every additional 15 minutes we are being held...and make it good!  As For the 8 and 10..I was able to do more work back then, I rested when I needed to and drove when I was able to legally..And as mentioned before...With the new rules we'll ALL be on the road at the same time...TONS of FUN!!!

James Flindt
Out of the cab but planning to climb back in
Jan, 02 2012

Too much restiction is not good. Forcing a driver to stop unwillingly because of a time limit and to restart because of time availibilty, it is unnatural to the bodies resting pattern. Besides (proper SLEEP & REST) is what D.O.T. is stressing. It's hard to get sleep when you're not sleepy and then dangerous to start new driving shift because you've stopped for the allowed time. Regulating hours per week is one thing but how many hours one can drive per day is another. If you're going to be awake for 14 hrs a day, you're awake no matter whether you are driving or not driving. It would be nice to have a 14 hr work day with 1 or 2 mandotory 1 hr breaks built somewhere in the 14 hrs. Lets look at shippers and receivers holding the driver for long periods of time doing non driving functions after they've started their day, with drivers still expected to make 500-700 mi trips for next day delivery. D.O.T needs to evaluate what counts.

Alonzo C
LC Transfer
Jan, 04 2012