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Hours of Service Rules – Recipe For Disaster

August 24, 2010 by Truckdrivernews · 8 Comments 

First off this is total speculation – the rules have not changed, yet. I just think that if the rules are changed from 11 hours of driving – to 8 hours of driving – without anything else being changed that this will be a recipe for disaster.

In the recent weeks there has been a couple of “high profile” trucking accidents in Ohio. Both were determined to be caused by fatigue by the truck driver. Changing the allowed time for truckers to drive will NOT help the situation, but will most likely make things worse. Advocates for safer highways such as Truck Safety Coalition, Public Citizen and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety suggest to FMCSA that they believe truck drivers are driving too many hours.

The problems related to fatigue related accidents in trucking starts with “Just in Time Delivery” – a demand driven inventory system in which materials, parts, sub-assemblies, and support items are delivered just when needed and neither sooner nor later. Included in this problem is on the shipping side as truck drivers have to sit on a dock awaiting to be loaded – sometimes for hours – in which “burns” up the hours that a truck driver has available to drive to deliver a load – just in time.

The way the hours-of-service now operate is that a trucker has 14 hours per day to complete that days task – whether it’s loading and then driving to make an appointment – or driving and making a delivery appointment. The drivers “clock” starts as soon as he or she starts their day – by doing their pretrip inspection as required by law. If this happens at 06:00 AM then by 8:00 PM that evening the driver must be parked and off-duty. But, a truck driver is ONLY allowed to drive for 11 hours in that 14 hours. Now if the driver has to wait on a dock to load or unload, then the clock is still “ticking away” at the 14 hour clock. If the driver has to wait – 5 hours, which is not unheard of – to either load or unload then the driver can only drive “legally” 9 hours for that day.

The problem is that when the driver gets delayed at a shipper or receiver the load that is already scheduled still has the same appointment time. The driver is “expected” to still get the load there “just in time” for that appointment – or else. The “or else” can be a punishment by the driver’s company perhaps by firing for too many late loads, or fining the driver for a late load, or just by letting the driver sit somewhere for a few days with no load. The company that the delivery or load is being picked up at can also “punish” the driver by making them sit and wait which in turn messes up the next load – costing the driver money.

So to make sure that this does not happen to a driver they will do just about anything they can to get the load delivered “just in time” for the appointment. Either by running the load illegally by driving over their hours or cutting their break time to get up and make the delivery or loading schedule and then “fudge” their log book to make it “look” legal.

One reason – that is a big concern in trucking – that makes a driver run over on his or her driving hours is the parking situation – or the lack there of – that interferes with truckers today. With inadequate parking available now – the parking problem will only increase with the “shortening” of the driving hours. Cutting the hours a driver is allowed to drive will only be a recipe for disaster if the parking problems are not fixed.

Pay and the lack of is another reason drivers will go over their hours. Most drivers are ONLY paid by the miles that they drive – meaning if the driver has to sit for hours waiting to load or unload they are not making any money – but the clock is still ticking on their 14 hour clock. In order to make up the difference they will drive.

Advocates believe that the science is clear and convincing: excessive working hours, especially in a high-risk occupation like truck driving, promotes sleep deprivation, fatigue, low alertness, and increased frequency of performance errors that lead to crashes, injuries, and deaths. The current rule needs to be reformed to provide truck drivers a HOS regime that demands far fewer hours of work and driving from them and provides them much more time to rest and recover. This will ONLY be accomplished by adding flexibility to the current HOS by allowing drivers to take a break without it going against their 14 hour clock.

If the hours-of-service are reworked by replacing the 11 hour driving limit with an 8 hour driving limit and nothing else is addressed, this will only make the problems worse and cut the pay even further on truck drivers and that is not the answer. The problems of No flexibility in the HOS, the lack of sufficient parking, and the low pay need to be addressed to reduce fatigue related accidents and truckers driving over their allowed hours.

© 2010, Truck Drivers News. All rights reserved.



8 Responses to “Hours of Service Rules – Recipe For Disaster”
  1. Todd McCann says:

    Boy, you said a mouthful there. And all true. Nice work, Jason.

    • HT says:

      I’ve been around long enough to have worked for many years under the old rules as well as having worked under the new rules since they came into play. How many people in the country outside the trucking industry work 70 hrs. a week? As far as the rules go, I really like the new rules. I think your day is better regulated to where you normally work the same hours every day, and you sleep the same hours every night. If it were up to me, I’d do away with the 34 hr restart though. I know, alot of driver’s are horrified and gasping at the thought. Again, how many people work a 70 hr week outside the trucking industry? Doing away with the 34 hr restart would put drivers back to the old 60 hrs in 7 days or 70 in 8. This 14 hrs a day 5 days a week stuff is nutts and just plain greedy. Not only would drivers get more home time, you’d create more jobs for those who are currently unemployed and raise wages for all drivers across the board on a per mile run or per hour worked basis. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.

  2. Dea Robertson says:

    IT’s not only the the HOS needs to be re-evaluated as you have point out, It is also to realize that one size does not fit all drivers. One driver using the 11 of 14 hours may not work for another. Some drivers need more time to work off their fatigue and others need less. Generally speaking, the 11 of 14 hour formula works the best for safety reasons. The 8 hour will be deficient for so many reason of the reason you have already mentioned and many more that it should be scrapped on arrival.

  3. Patrick says:

    That the truth we need to stand up & fight we need a strike

  4. DJ says:

    How many surgeons are restricted in the hours they can work a day? How many physicians?…police officers?…firefighters? have to comply with a federal HOS regulation? Yet fatigue in these and other occupations, can be just as disatrous as fatigue behind the wheel. In addition reducing the available driving hours will ultimately result in MORE trucks on the road compounding the already unacceptable parking and congestion problems. It seems to me that the biggest problem is caused by drivers who refuse to obey the rules; making new rules will not fix THAT problem!

    • G.R. says:

      These are the facts how many people work a 70 hour week on average that is a long
      week. I agree with Mr. Robertson individuals are not the same. Rest is the best medicine. More pay in most cases, Just in time loads are for teams. The parking promblem is devastating to everyone out here. Economic times have driven people into
      this trade. knowing a little about it. I can’t make any money as a company driver.
      and as you all have added the exsperience sitting at a dock for hours does not help
      making any money nor finding a safe haven for the night, nor a legal log book.
      I think most of us have exsperienced these issues that need to be addressed to the federal law makers. And greedy marketeers.

  5. hurtis geoghagan says:

    only way to fixe the problem is due what they did to the
    airlines if the truck is in your dock for more than
    3 hour the company should be fined by the government
    $50.000 dollars per truck
    and no trucking company should have to pay have there truck
    loaded or loaded at shiper or reciever
    or have drivers do any loading or loading
    a drivers is to drive only
    and they need to go back to old hours 10/8
    and computer logs are not about safety at all
    they push you speed as fast you can go
    just put a back box in truck

  6. C Bradley Hindle says:

    It seems to me that the unions and regional carriers are the only people that really support the severe restrictions to the hours of service. The apparent result being the elimination of independent long haul truckers.For more than 30 years i have hauled loads all over North America. I do not want to spend time off on the road somewhere away from my family and then not be able to afford to take time off when I am home.The current regulations have caused me to drive when I am tired,the conditions are unsafe, and on the days that I am just not in the right frame of mind to be driving. We all have off days.In addition I cannot take a break when driving into a low sun that is blinding me, or to avoid heavy traffic when going through big cities.The 14 hour window is not only asinine it is dangerous.Maybe if we were paid by the hour we wouldn’t need the people that are thinking up solutions to problems they don’t understand meddling with the hours of service.

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