Bekins


Sponsored By:

   The Nation  |  Business  |  Equipment  |  Features


Truckers started Monday with a clean slate with new HOS

From this point on, the 34-hour restart provision, first initiated Jan. 1, 2004, can be used only once every 168 hours and all 34-hour restarts must include two 1 a.m.-to-5 a.m. periods.

By LYNDON FINNEY
The Trucker Staff

7/1/2013

WASHINGTON — If something feels different out there on the road today, it is.

At one second after midnight Monday morning, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the commercial vehicle law enforcement community began to monitor professional truck drivers for violation of two new provisions in the Hours of Service rules.

From this point on, the 34-hour restart provision, first initiated Jan. 1, 2004, can be used only once every 168 hours and all 34-hour restarts must include two 1 a.m.-to-5 a.m. periods.

In addition, drivers can no longer work more than eight consecutive hours without taking a 30-minute break.

The immediate good news on the restart provision is that every truck driver started Monday with a clean slate.

In other words, if a driver came off a restart as late as 11:59 p.m. Sunday he or she can take the next restart at any point they choose, but after that restart ends, they will have to wait 168 hours before starting a new one.

As for the 30-minute break, officials warned drivers to remember that the new law does not say one 30-minute break per 14-hour duty period. It says a driver must take a break after no more than eight consecutive hours on duty, regardless of how many hours were driven during that eight hours.

Therefore, if a driver takes a 30-minute break too early in the 14-hour duty cycle, he or she would have to take a second 30-minute break.

The new rules are on a teeter-totter, so to speak.

Both trucking interests and safety advocates filed a petition with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia hoping to have the new rules overturned.

The court heard oral arguments March 15, but has yet to release a ruling.

In addition, at the behest of Congress, the FMCSA is conducting a study of the impact of new 34-hour restart provision using live carrier data, and will release that study later this year.

Trucking interests and some lawmakers asked as recently as June 18 to hold off on the new rules until the study was complete.

The Obama administration and trucking stakeholders disagree on the impact of the new provisions.

First announced in December 2011 by FMCSA, the agency says the new rules limit the average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours (instead of 82 that conceivably could be worked under the old rule) to ensure that all truck operators have adequate rest.  Only the most extreme schedules will be impacted, and more than 85 percent of the truck driving workforce will see no changes, the FMCSA said.

The agency estimated that the new safety regulations will save 19 lives and prevent approximately 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries each year. 

“These fatigue-fighting rules for truck drivers were carefully crafted based on years of scientific research and unprecedented stakeholder outreach,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro.  “The result is a fair and balanced approach that will result in an estimated $280 million in savings from fewer large truck crashes and $470 million in savings from improved driver health.  Most importantly, it will save lives.”

Trucking stakeholders counter that the current rules have been the catalyst for a significant decrease in truck-related fatalities since 2004, and the new rules will cut productivity anywhere from 2-10 percent, in addition to adding congestion on the nation’s highways because of the 1 a.m.-5 a.m. requirements.

They also point to a recent American Trucking Research Institute survey that reveals only 2 percent or less of drivers come close to working 82 hours a week and that most don’t come anywhere near the 70-hour mark.

The ATRI survey revealed a majority of drivers expect the restart provisions to impact their quality of life and current operations in the following ways: decreased income/miles (64.9 percent); increased stress (62.6 percent); loss of flexibility during peak periods (85 percent); increased exposure to congestion (62 percent); and increased interruptions during holidays (58.2 percent).

The final rule retains the current 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour work day.

Companies and drivers that commit egregious violations of the rule could face the maximum penalties for each offense.  Trucking companies and passenger carriers that allow drivers to exceed driving limits by more than three hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.

Further information, including “Hours of Service Logbook Examples,” is available on FMCSA's web site at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/HOS.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

Find more news and analysis from The Trucker, and share your thoughts, on Facebook.