Federal commission: Rest breaks need to stop on-duty clock

| 1/17/2008

The inability of truckers to stop the on-duty clock when taking short breaks has been put in the spotlight by a federal commission charged with making highway funding recommendations.

The National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission released its report on Tuesday, Jan. 15. The report, among other things, recommends an increase in the federal fuel tax, tolls and congestion pricing.

In a portion of the recommendation that backs congestion pricing – higher tolls during times of higher traffic volume – commission members acknowledged that truckers have several hurdles facing them, which may be in conflict with the congestion pricing strategy.

The report addressed three big problems truckers face on a daily basis. The report touched on schedules dictated by shippers, the difficulty in passing on toll costs, and restrictions within the HOS regs that keep truckers from adjusting their schedules.

“Shippers determine pick-up and delivery times and trucking operators have little or no influence over these decisions,” the report states. “Because tolls are not easily passed directly by the carrier to the customer … there is little incentive for the shipper or receiver to adjust their schedules.”

The commission pitched the idea of approaching shippers and receivers with some sort of incentive to influence truck delivery schedules.

But, in addition to trying to adjust delivery times, the commission members also recognized that there need to be changes to the HOS regs to provide truckers with some flexibility.

The report points out that truck drivers no longer have the option of a “log-off” during rest breaks. That means that truck drivers who might want to alter their driving schedule through a peak-period congestion pricing scheme by taking a rest break, can’t.

“Therefore, it is recommended that an adjustment be made to the hours-of-service regulations to take into consideration the need for rest breaks to accommodate congested metropolitan areas,” the report concluded.

– By Jami Jones, senior editor