Life on the Road
New HOS Rules Take Effect
After analyzing years of scientific research, holding eight public hearings,
conducting three round-table sessions and reviewing more than 50,000 individual
comments submitted during the rulemaking process, the Federal Motor Carriers
Safety Administration in April unveiled its final rule governing hours-of-service.
As of that date, drivers will be allowed to drive 11 hours at a stretch compared
to 10 under the old rule. The basic workday will shrink from 15 non-consecutive
hours to 14 consecutive hours (including loading and unloading time), while
required off-duty hours will jump from eight consecutive hours to 10. Meanwhile,
cumulative on-duty hours remain the same: 60 hours in seven days (or 70 hours
in eight days for carriers that operate seven days a week).
According to the FMCSA, “the new regulations provide an increased opportunity
for drivers to obtain necessary rest and restorative sleep, and at the same
time reflect operational realities of motor carrier transportation.” The
FMCSA claims the new rules will prevent 1,300 fatigue related crashes and 75
deaths each year.
The new rule, prompted by the Fed’s goal to reduce accidents by addressing
driver fatigue, was seen as a compromise
between motor carriers and drivers.
Several questions, however, remain unanswered. Will the new rule actually improve
driver safety? Some driver organizations dispute the FMCSA’s numbers,
particularly in light of the fact the number of driving hours is going up, not
down. Will the new rule create or eliminate driving jobs? Again, the jury is
The American Trucking Associations announced its support for the new rule.
“This is a package that our members can work with,” said Bill Graves,
ATA president and CEO. “We have worked hard all along for a rule that
is a good mixture of common sense and sound science. It will allow us to meet
the real world operational needs of the trucking industry and most importantly,
do so safely.
“The rule is easy to understand, easy to comply with and easy to enforce—three
principles that reflect ATA’s position on this important safety issue,”
Driver organizations, who say the changes were motivated more by the bottom
line than concern over safety, are less enthusiastic. As for the drivers themselves,
see this month’s “Say What” feature for their comments on
the HOS situation.
For many drivers, the real problem isn’t how many hours they can or can’t
drive each day. The real problem is the unpaid hours they are forced to waste
at the loading dock each day. The new rule doesn’t do anything to address
Source: FMCSA, ATA