OOIDA survey: HOS regs cause more fatigue, stress; less flexibility, money

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 11/19/2013

The new hours-of-service regulations have been in effect for more than three months now. And the response from members of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is less than stellar.

The OOIDA Foundation conducted a survey of its membership in October. The survey incorporated 14 questions on the new HOS changes and included a section for comments.

In short, the survey results show that respondents say they are more fatigued, more stressed, have less flexibility, make less money, and find parking even more difficult than before.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration claimed the new regulations were designed to reduce fatigue. That’s not what the results of the survey say.

Approximately 53 percent of the respondents said the new regulations did not decrease nor increase fatigue. However, 46 percent stated they actually felt more fatigued than before.

The 30-minute mandatory break did not receive positive feedback from survey respondents. OOIDA members said they scarcely use the 30-minute mandatory break to sleep, but instead simply sit in their trucks waiting for their break to end.

The actual duration of the break was generally extended because of the lack of safe and available parking for large trucks, according to the survey.

“Most of the time my 30 minutes turns into 60 minutes or more by the time you find parking and get back on the road,” one respondent commented on the survey.

Another, an overnight driver, said that finding a parking spot for a 30-minute mandatory break during the night was virtually impossible.

Respondents said the mandatory break has extended their work weeks and added significant stress to their day-to-day routines. A few members even went so far to confess they drive faster to make up time lost during the 30-minute break.

The optional 34-hour restart provision received widespread criticism in the survey, as well. The new optional provision is limited to being used only once every seven days and must include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods.

The survey results show 79 percent of the respondents claimed the one restart per week has affected their use of the 34-hour restart, with 31 percent stating they have been significantly affected.

Many of the respondents commented that if they were to try and use the optional 34-hour restart, they actually spent significantly more time than 34 hours meeting the overnight duration requirements.

“I no longer get a 34-hour reset. I get home for about 40 hours, but I don’t get the two 1-5 time periods. So now I have to recap all the time,” one respondent stated in the comments.

Another echoed that sentiment, stating the driver no longer uses the optional 34-hour restart and instead has chosen to use the recap provision. “

“I’ve chosen to use the recap because, of the two options, it allows me more flexibility,” the respondent stated.

Team and overnight operations were especially critical of the changes to the optional 34-hour restart provision. According to the survey’s executive summary, both team and overnight drivers stated that the new 34-hour restart forces them to take at least 48 hours off the road because of the two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. overnight requirements.

That extended period of time off the road had a significant negative affect on the productivity in both operations.

OOIDA has been critical of the newest changes to the hours-of-service regulations. The results of the survey prove what the Association said would happen.

“The agency’s insistence on micromanaging a driver’s time is actually undermining highway safety,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president, in response to the survey results. “Instead of providing the flexibility to drive when rested and stop when tired, the new rules have put drivers in the position of driving more hours than ever and in the worst traffic conditions, and spending less time at home. How is that safe?”

The House Committee on Small Business will hold a hearing on Thursday, Nov. 21, “Wrong way: The impact of FMCSA’s hours of service regulation on small business.” OOIDA Life Member Tilden Curl is scheduled to present testimony on behalf of the Association at the hearing.

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