Hours of Service
December 2015 Update
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the adoption of a Final Rule that will improve roadway safety by employing technology to strengthen commercial truck and bus drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service regulations that prevent fatigue.
The Final Rule requiring the use of electronic logging devices (ELD) will result in an annual net benefit of more than $1 billion - largely by reducing the amount of required industry paperwork. It will also increase the efficiency of roadside law enforcement personnel in reviewing driver records. Strict protections are included that will protect commercial drivers from harassment.
On an annual average basis, the ELD Final Rule is estimated to save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles.
An ELD automatically records driving time. It monitors engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven, and location information.
Federal safety regulations limit the number of hours commercial drivers can be on-duty and still drive, as well as the number of hours spent driving. These limitations are designed to prevent truck and bus drivers from becoming fatigued while driving, and require that drivers take a work break and have a sufficient off-duty rest period before returning to on-duty status.
The four main elements of the ELD Final Rule include:
- Requiring commercial truck and bus drivers who currently use paper log books to maintain hours-of-service records to adopt ELDs within two years. It is anticipated that approximately three million drivers will be impacted.
- Strictly prohibiting commercial driver harassment. The Final Rule provides both procedural and technical provisions designed to protect commercial truck and bus drivers from harassment resulting from information generated by ELDs. [A separate FMCSA rulemaking further safeguards commercial drivers from being coerced to violate federal safety regulations and provides the agency with the authority to take enforcement actions not only against motor carriers, but also against shippers, receivers, and transportation intermediaries.]
- Setting technology specifications detailing performance and design requirements for ELDs so that manufacturers are able to produce compliant devices and systems - and purchasers are enabled to make informed decisions.
- Establishing new hours-of-service supporting document (shipping documents, fuel purchase receipts, etc.) requirements that will result in additional paperwork reductions. In most cases, a motor carrier would not be required to retain supporting documents verifying on-duty driving time.
The ELD Final Rule permits the use of smart phones and other wireless devices as ELDs, so long as they satisfy technical specifications, are certified, and are listed on an FMCSA website. Canadian- and Mexican-domiciled drivers will also be required to use ELDs when operating on U.S. roadways.
Motor carriers who have previously installed compliant Automatic On-Board Recording Devices may continue to use the devices for an additional two years beyond the compliance date.
A copy of the ELD Final Rule is available at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/electronic-logging-devices-and-hours-service-supporting-documents.
Further information, including a comprehensive, searchable list of frequently asked questions, is availableÂ https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/elds.
December 2014 Update
With the signing of the Fiscal Year 2015 Appropriations bill by the President on December 17, 2014, key parts of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) hours of service regulations that govern the 34-hour restart rule for truck drivers were temporarily suspended. The suspension (now in effect) will last until at least September 30, 2015 while studies on the safety benefits and costs of the HOS regulations are carried out by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the DOT Inspector General.
Which HOS Rules Were Suspended?
The suspension targets two specific provisions of the HOS regulations that went into effect on July 1, 2013. Namely, the rule that allows commercial drivers to restart their clocks only once per week has been lifted for the time being. Now, drivers will be able to restart their clocks more than once per week. Secondly, drivers will no longer be required to include two 1:00-5:00 a.m. periods within their 34-hour restart.
Issues Concerning the HOS Rules
In recent years, increasing regulations on the HOS rules, including the restart provision, have raised safety concerns from many trucking groups, including the American Trucking Association (ATA).
"The new restart restrictions, since they went into effect in July 2013, created a real safety concern for truck drivers and fleets," ATA executive vice president Dave Osiecki said in a video statement about the recent HOS rules suspension. "The safety concern was that when drivers come off the two back-to-back 1 a.m. to 5.a.m periods it pushes them in their trucks in the early morning traffic which is a safety concern and it raises safety risks."
Additionally, the changes implemented on July 1, 2013, according to Logistics Management, have been credited by some with lowering industry productivity and contributing to an already-tightened capacity problem. The issue with capacity, which has also been coping with an industry-wide driver shortage, has resulted in higher operational costs for both shippers and carriers.
Will your business be affected?
Right now, it is difficult to predict how the market will react to the temporary suspension of the restart rules. In the short-term, transportation capacity across the industry might experience a slight relief.
However, it's important to remember that the current restart suspension is just one factor out of many that affects the transportation industry. Planning ahead by securing truckload capacity is one alternative to betting on the future direction of congress and the FMCSA that can be predicted.
July 2013 Update
Below is information related to the Hours of Service (HOS) regulation changes that became effective in July 2013 per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
What do the HOS changes mean for shippers?
First of all, Averitt does not expect the HOS changes to impact our ability to provide outstanding service.
Second, while it is way too soon to know with certainty what the specific impact will be, some industry experts have predicted the following:
- Truckload carriers will see a reduction in productivity and utilization up to 6 percent, resulting in an industry-wide loss of up to $1.4 billion.
- The industry will need an estimated 75,000 additional trucks just to haul existing freight.
- Drivers may become even harder to hire and retain.
- More experienced drivers will exit the industry.
- Carriers may be pressured to increase driver pay to compensate for lost miles, potentially leading to higher rates.
- Some shippers may have to adjust their supply chains or cooperate more closely with carriers to keep supply chains running and to ensure carriers get the best possible fleet utilization.
- Changes to shipment transit times and origin-to-destination costs.
While industry projections are uncertain, Averitt customers can be certain our team is uniquely prepared to adjust to the new HOS rules.
In fact, we’ve taken several steps to ensure a smooth transition, including:
- Implementing new technology
- Adding resources to keep shipments moving
- Communicating with our drivers and customers
Implementing new technology
For nearly a year and a half, in anticipation of the upcoming changes, Averitt has been installing next-generation Qualcomm units (with electronic logging capabilities) in all new road tractors. This technology better ensures our ability to stay in compliance with the new rules.
Averitt is committed to continuing this upgrade process until all units are equipped with electronic log technology.
Adding resources to keep shipments moving
Much like other transportation companies, Averitt’s biggest challenge with the new rules will be with our truckload operation. The 34-hour restart rule is expected to be the most impactful – with the added challenge of getting drivers home for the mandatory two successive 1 a.m. - 5 a.m. periods.
We estimate that this could impact 25-35 percent of our drivers each week, so steps have been implemented to lessen that impact.
For example, Averitt has added resources on the weekends to get drivers home prior to their mandatory restart periods and to arrange driver swaps when necessary to keep shipments moving. Averitt has also built some contingencies into transit times to allow for the mandatory breaks and resets.
Communicating with our drivers and customers
Communications and training are key elements of Averitt’s corporate culture. We have implemented a communications and educational program to make sure associates are aware of the changes and are prepared to fully comply with all regulations.
Just like with all other changes that have come in the industry, Averitt will also make adjustments and communicate with customers. Many of our customers with their own fleets have contacted us to “compare notes.” Other customers have reached out to secure capacity beyond the rule changes. We thank our customers for being patient with us as we work through the changes and for allowing some flexibility in shipping requirements.
Many people have referred to a "post-July 1, 2013 world" for our industry. The reality is we don’t know how dramatic the impact of the changes will be. Lots of planning and resource allocation have been done, though the effects of the new rules are difficult to model due to all the variables. We are confident that the proactive steps we’ve taken will provide a smooth transition into the new rules for our customers and our drivers.
Like every other challenge at Averitt — we will figure it out together.
For a complete explanation of the Hours of Service rules that became effective in July 2013, visit the website of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hos.
Watch below as Averitt Safety Coordinator David Morris explains the HOS changes to our driver team: