Features
Proposed HOS Regulations
  • "Workday" based on a recurring, continuous 24-hour cycle.

  • "Workweek" based on seven continuous "workdays."

  • Drivers can work/drive for 12 hours out of a 14-hour period in a day. The other two hours are to be used for rest/meals/naps, and be taken in segments of at least 1/2 hour. The two-hour rest period may be taken all at once at the end of the work period and just prior to the 10 continuous hours of rest period if desired.

  • If a driver works a normal "workweek," he works 60 hours in 5 days and then he is required to take a 56-hour "weekend."

  • For flexibility, the driver can opt to work a "long workweek" of 72 hours in 6 days, take a "short" 32-hour "weekend" that includes two 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. sleep periods. This would be followed by a "short workweek" of 48 hours in four days, and then a "long weekend" of 80 hours. (In a flex 2 week period, the 32- and 80-hour "weekends" total 112 hours and the 72 and 48 hours of work total 120 hours, which equals the totals for hours in two regular weeks.)

  • Solo drivers cannot split their required 10 hours a day of continuous off-duty time. Team drivers can split their 10 hours of continuous off-duty time into two five-hour segments. While one member of the team is in the berth, the driving team member must observe the mandatory two hours off during his 14 on-duty/driving time.

  • Long-haul drivers will have to install an onboard electronic recorder box to keep hours of service data, which enforcement officers could download at the roadside for review. (Large carriers will have 2 years from the effective date of the new rule to install recorders, 50+ trucks; medium carriers 3 years, 21-50 trucks; and small carriers will have 4 years, 20 or less trucks.) This timetable applies only to the installation of onboard recorders, not compliance with new HOS regulations.

The impact of the new hours-of-service proposal

OOIDA testifies before U.S. transportation officials on the negative impact of the new hours-of-service proposal on the nation's trucking industry and the economy as a whole

During the month of June, industry stakeholders seized the opportunity to present live comments on the impact of the government's proposed revisions to the hours-of-service regulations. At the half dozen scheduled "listening sessions," transportation officials heard a clear message from the trucking industry.

"These regulations govern the amount of time commercial drivers may drive in a day and in a week, and exist to protect truckers from being overworked to the point of fatigue," says Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association President Jim Johnston. "And the message delivered to federal regulators is that the Department of Transportation's recently-announced proposal will not meet that basic objective. It will, however, probably wreak havoc in areas the regulators have never even considered."

More than 20 witnesses testified before U.S. transportation officials May 31 in Washington, DC, at the first of the scheduled sessions. Todd Spencer, vice president of the OOIDA, spoke on behalf of association members. More meetings commenced in Ontario, CA; Golden, CO; Kansas City, MO; Indianapolis, IN; Vernon, CT; and Jackson, GA.

The June meetings commenced in designated locations conducive to the attendance of over-the-road truckers and many willingly parked their trucks and stepped to the microphone. Along with OOIDA officers, directors and members, speakers representing the commercial trucking and bus industries argued convincingly.

What OOIDA told transportation officials

At the Washington meeting, Todd Spencer told the Department of Transportation that if the rules are adopted as proposed, "...good, safe, professional drivers are ready to chuck it for good."

He told the agency officials it is obvious that antiquated rules that actually cause fatigue by rigidly binding drivers into rotating work schedules have to be revised. Truckers don't want to work more hours for the same money or perhaps even less. They also don't want to trade one set of rigid rules for a different set of rigid rules that do not allow truckers the flexibility needed to do their jobs in a safe and prudent manner.

The present 65-year-old hours-of-service regulations allow a driver to drive for 10 hours, rest for eight hours, and then start driving again. By the fourth day, the driver's whole day has been turned backwards. He is sleeping when his body wants to be awake, and driving when his body is trying to go to sleep. This system, put in place to protect drivers from fatigue, has actually become one of the major causes of fatigue.

"The rules need an update," said Spencer. "But the end product must be reasonable in meeting the needs of drivers as well as other affected parties. Unrealistic demands or expectations, no matter how well-meaning, will exact a heavy toll."

In their proposed revisions to solve this problem, the government has attempted to superimpose on an industry that serves a 24-hour-a-day economy, the cloak of regularity. Long-haul, over-the-road truckers will set their daily start point for their workdays in their workweek when they begin work on day one. The daily start point opens a 14-hour window of opportunity, in which a truckdriver may work for 12 hours. The additional two hours are for meals or rest/nap breaks. At the close of the 14-hour window, the driver will have to stop all work for 10 continuous hours of off-duty time, in which he is expected to get 8 hours of sleep. Since the off-duty time is 10 continuous hours (which fall at the same time every day), a driver who finds himself tired during his 14-hour window of opportunity to work, will be more likely to continue driving than take a nap, because he can't recapture the lost driving time. Conversely, an idle driver that finds a new load at the end of his allowable work window may only be able to work a couple of hours in a given day. Once again, we will find that a set of rigid regulations designed to prevent fatigue will actually promote it.

The proposed regulations also call for truckdrivers to take weekends between their workweeks. The regular week would be composed of five, twelve-hour days for a possible 60 hours of work followed by a 56-hour weekend. For regulatory flexibility, they are also proposing a driver be able to work a long workweek of six, twelve-hour workdays for a possible 72 hours of work followed by a "short weekend" of 32 hours. The second workweek would be a short one and consist of four, twelve-hour workdays for a possibility of 48 hours of work followed by a long weekend of 80 hours. The obvious intent is to induce drivers to spend a short weekend on the road and then get home every other weekend to spend three days plus eight hours with their families. At the June meetings, OOIDA representatives told transportation officials that what will actually happen is truckers will run out of time out on the road and will be stuck in expensive truck stops for 80 hours wishing they were at home with their family. When they finally do get home, they will cut the visit short to make up for the three days they wasted during their forced weekend.

Another issue included in the DOT's proposal that drew ire from the owner-operator group is the required installation of electronic monitoring (surveillance) equipment in trucks for purposes of enforcing compliance with the proposed hours-of-service regulations on professional truckers. "This completely overturns the basic principles of our legal system for one class of citizens," Spencer told the DOT. "It seeks to brand professional drivers as untrustworthy members of society." OOIDA calls the requirement heavy-handed and overzealous and urged the transportation officials to have the requirement for mandatory installation of electronic systems dropped from the proposal. "If we are not able to accomplish this," said Spencer, "we will most definitely challenge this outrageous intrusion on the rights of professional truckers through the court system, or through any other means at our disposal."

Industry estimates place reduced productivity of the trucking industry in the 25- to 35-percent range if these regulations are passed as proposed. Since neither the trucks nor qualified drivers exist to make up such a devastating shortfall, the consequences on the industries that depend on trucking (and the economy as a whole) will more than likely be catastrophic.

"Truckers need hours-of-service regulations that will allow them flexibility to drive when they are alert and to sleep when they are tired without fear of being fined or fired for making an intelligent decision," said Spencer, who asked the DOT on behalf of the 53,000 members of OOIDA, to go back to the drawing board.

OOIDA was represented at the June meetings on HOS by its executive staff, its board of directors and numerous members who attended the hearings. Officers and board members in attendance included Todd Spencer, executive vice president; Bob Esler, secretary; and Rick Craig, treasurer. Board members attending meetings included Ralph Fries, Tim Trotter, Charles Parfrey, Bill Rode, Jim Mathews, Fred Barnes, Gary Green, Ken Becker, Mark Elrod, Ray Kasicki, Woody Chambers, Eric Beck, Jay Hosty, John Taylor and Harold Landry.

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