As of July 1, 2013, two new Hours of Service (HOS) regulations were handed down from the FMCSA. One now requires drivers to take a thirty minute break between the fifth to the eighth hours of driving. The second concerns the 34 hour restart. It used to be that whenever a driver was off duty for 34 hours, that driver had a “fresh 70″ and could then drive 70 hours in the next 8 days. The restart could be taken as often as a driver had 34 hours off. Now, the restart can only be obtained once every seven days, or exactly 168 hours after the last one. It must also include two periods between 1 AM and 5 AM.
I know the policy makers meant well, but we drivers are suffering. And so are the companies we work for and the shippers and the receivers. These new HOS rules just do not work very well in the real world of trucking. Here are a few stories I have picked up from drivers in the months since July 1.
Driver A started his week off on a Monday. Trying to plan his trip, he realized he had to take his 30 minute break just before he arrived at the receiver. He made it on time, but then the receiver took a very long time to unload. When he was finally able to drive, he could not make it to the nearest place to park – missing it by 18 minutes. Had he not been forced to take that break, he would not have violated the HOS regs.
Driver B works for a company that gets her home on the weekends. Sometimes her weekends would start on Friday evening, sometimes Saturday. She used to get a 34 hour restart each week, but now, due to the HOS changes and the fact that no company can guarantee that home time will start at the same time each week, she usually gets a restart only every other week.
Driver C hauls oversize loads that can travel only during daylight hours. He says that the 30 minute break cuts down on the time he can drive.
A lot of people are complaining about these new rules that have limited our ability to choose when to stop for a break. It is not helping the companies retain drivers either. More drivers will be needed, some say, because of the HOS changes. Freight will be delayed.
I am not saying we need to go back to the old days of two logbooks and amphetamines, but please – could we take a closer look at the real impact of these well-meaning, but poorly thought out, rules?
, Truck Driver