FMCSA’s proposed Hours of Service Ruling Brings Questions from the Transportation Community

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) proposed amendment for Hours of Service (HOS) has brought up some questions from the different facets of the transportation industry. The changes, which took effect in October 2010, require that truck drivers take 10 hours off in between moves, but would be allowed to split the time into two blocks.

Previously, drivers could split their “sleeper time” into these two short blocks — say five and five — as long as one period was at least two hours long.  However, the new amendment is stricter, as one block will now have to be at least 8 hours in time.

These changes have raised some concerns with some of the trucking and carrier operators.  For the trucking outfits, a few are concerned with the prospect of their drivers working 10 hour shifts, as a small number have grown accustomed to driving 5/5 hour shifts.  They worry that the longer shifts could endanger these drivers, many of whom would have to get used to working the longer 8-10 hours shifts.

The carriers on the other hand are concerned with the additional operational costs that this measure has brought up.  Due to the limit to the amount of hours per work day, there would be an average of 24 miles per day lost for the drivers.  Some researchers have estimated a 3 to 7 percent reduction in driver productivity with the change.  At a recent meeting between the heads of some major transportation companies and the FMCSA, the topic of increased driver pay to compensate for the lost mileage came up.  They had calculated that on average, driver pay would need to increase by $3,000 per year to make up for the lost mileage.  Couple this with the expected rate increases due to tighter capacity, stricter safety regulations, rising equipment costs and increasing fuel prices. Needless to say, the carriers are not thrilled about the HOS proposal.

Stay tuned as the deliberations continue between the transportation companies and the FMCSA.

Click here for the HOS proposed rule details