How Do Hours for Truck Drivers Affect Transportation?

In July of 2013 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration made an update to the Hours of Service (HOS) rules. The most recent update to the HOS is one of the reasons for today’s trucking capacity issues.

What are the new rules?

The new HOS rules have some significant changes from the old HOS rules. Below is a basic outline of where the most major changes were made.

  • Drivers are limited to 2 loads per week shipments (was 3 loads per week)
  • There is a limitation for 500 miles per 24 hours (was 625 miles next-day-delivery)

The Issue

As a result of these HOS changes, it is taking longer to get the product from the shippers to the receivers. Another issue is that production of products keeps running, but the trucks aren’t able to deliver the product as fast as it is being produced anymore. As a result, rates are increasing because drivers are trying to make up for the driving time they are losing.

The Biggest Issue

The biggest issue though, is that with these new HOS rules they really push drivers to maintain accurate reporting of log books. Although the accurate reporting of log books was required before, many drivers were fudging HOS and making up for the time at a later day. With the more policing by FMCSA, drivers aren’t able to do this anymore.

In addition, FMCSA is watching out for carriers that are required to spend time supervising and assisting with the loading and unloading of their cargo and reporting this time as “down-time”.

The Misconceptions

Along with these new rules there are two major misconceptions.

Misconception: The sleeper berth time and off duty apply to the 10 hour break.

Truth: Sleeper berth time means that the driver should be resting, although not necessarily sleeping, in the sleeper berth compartment. Off duty means that the driver is completely relieved form all work duties and responsibilities.

Misconception: A driver only needs to log hours when they are actually driving.

Truth: If a driver needs to be there, then the driver is on duty. For example, the time the driver spends on the dock supervising and assisting the loading or unloading process is time that should be logged.

These new HOS rules are for the safety of the drivers and those on the roads. Recently, FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro stated “Safety has got to be part of the supply chain, part of logistics planning, just as sustainability and efficiency are.”

For more information about the Hours of Service rules, contact us.

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