Fleet Management

An Early Take on the Impact of the Hours of Service Changes

July 11, 2013

By Oliver Patton

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It is too soon to measure the full impact of the changes in the hours of service rule, but the carriers that will be most affected are high-output truckload fleets that have drivers out on the road for weeks at a time, said Noel Perry, an economist with FTR Associates.

These are the carriers most likely to lose productive hours under changes in the 34-hour restart provision, said Perry in a Thursday webinar sponsored by FTR.

The changes that went into effect July 1 require the 34-hour restart to include two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., and limit use of the restart to once a week. They also require drivers to take a 30-minute break in an 8-hour period.

The nominal effect of both changes in the restart provision is to reduce productivity by 14%, but since relatively few carriers will be affected the net effect is more like 2.5%, Perry said.

“It’s those long-haul drivers who are out two to three weeks at a time who will be most affected by this change,” he said.

The 30-minute break requirement is likely to have little impact, he added. Drivers take breaks as a matter of course throughout their shifts. “Instead of stopping for 15 minutes they must take 30. This is a relatively small change.”

The important thing is to look at the HOS changes in the context of other recent or pending federal safety and health regulations, Perry said.

The hours revision will require these carriers to either change their level of service or hire on new drivers. Perry estimates the driver demand at about 60,000 over the next year or so.

But when he adds in estimated driver requirements to comply with a long list of pending and possible regulations, he gets to a total of 1.2 million new recruits required over the next three to four years.

His list includes the CSA safety enforcement program, and pending rules such as electronic logging and its prohibition of driver coercion, the drug and alcohol database. Also possible are a mandatory speed limiter requirement, driver training standards and electronic stability controls.

On the other hand, Perry does not foresee a huge increase in demand for freight movement from the economy.

“For the next couple of years the economy will put only modest pressure on (trucking) capacity,” he said.  

Meanwhile, carriers and shippers can make some moves to mitigate the impact of the hours of service changes, he said.

Carriers should ramp up recruiting and take care of their drivers.

“If you’re thinking about an increase in pay, this is probably the time.”

Shippers should make sure they have budget flexibility if freight rates go up, and should be flexible in their relations with carriers, he counseled.

“This is not the time to send truckers away and ask them to come back in four hours because they missed their appointment.”

And think about cooperative programs with core carriers to match shipments with equipment.

Perry does not believe that the ongoing litigation over the hours rule will lead to a reversal of the changes.

The rule has been challenged in a federal appeals court on different grounds by American Trucking Associations and Public Citizen. A ruling could be handed down any day.

If the judges had intended to intervene they would have done so before the rule went into effect, so it is likely that the rule will be upheld, he said.

Look for a more extensive analysis of the rule change in the August issue of Heavy Duty Trucking.


  1. 1. mike [ July 11, 2013 @ 04:53PM ]

    what about drivers that run at night for ltl carriers who can not work the extra night and we are losing somewhere in the range of 18000 dollars a year in income how do we make this up this is week 2 of dipping into savings wont last long doing this i love our system after 38 yrs there are concerned

  2. 2. jimmie buster srretiredtr [ July 12, 2013 @ 03:42AM ]

    all these test are done using freight haulers not truck load carriers freight haulers run so far switch trailers for back haul while the other driver conunes on wiith your load then another driver delivers the load

  3. 3. Stu [ July 12, 2013 @ 03:54AM ]

    I am wondering where they fimd the data that they are basing the rules on. It seems to me they would have to do these studies on actual truck drivers In the process of doing their job to accurately measure fitness and fatigue. Studying sleep patterns on college students doesn't even come close to being justified

  4. 4. Dennis [ July 12, 2013 @ 05:09AM ]

    Another segment they didn't consider with these rules is carriers like the one I work for. Typically we go out on Sunday and come back in Friday. Some times get done on Thursday and then leave Saturday. Under these new rules that doesn't work. This week I finished Thursday evening. Even though I am off at home the restart can't start until Friday evening because of the 168 hour rule, I started restart last Friday at 2100. Nice to have time at home but doesn't help the wallet.

  5. 5. Ernie [ July 12, 2013 @ 05:56AM ]

    All you liberals got exactly what you voted for.... This is just another "jobs" program from Obama and his buddies in the unions. They don't care how if effects real people, it's all a numbers game to them. Less hours available to drivers equals more drivers needed.

  6. 6. pat davis [ July 12, 2013 @ 07:56PM ]

    exactly ernie that is what it is pay backs to the unions and special interest groups

  7. 7. J beach st [ July 12, 2013 @ 10:22PM ]

    Well Ernie and pat maybe one day hopefully soon you will wake up and realize that congress makes the rules and laws not the president

  8. 8. Bill Molina [ July 13, 2013 @ 05:48AM ]

    Here's the deal folks... stop the crying & bitching. Unfortunately we have the power to show congress, the senate, the American public hell the whole world, that "WITHOUT TRUCKS, AMERICA STOPS, HELL THE WHOLE WORLD STOPS" However, we don't use this power. I am all for regulations etc. But justly applied. About 2 years ago I invited the head honcho of Mothers Against Tired Dtivers to take a trip with me cross country in a nice comfortable studio sleeper I use to own, so she can experience first hand what my drivers & others must endure week after week out on the toad. So she can see life from the inside of a cross country tractor trailer, and her answer was "no thanks I am extremely busy". I don't know folks, everyone with a steak on this grill has their own agenda to keep.

  9. 9. Lee Lenard [ July 13, 2013 @ 07:43AM ]

    Thanks J beach, correct congress is where we direct our anger and frustration with this totally stupid rewrite of the HOS. Almost none of the Congressmen understand HOS, we have to write them and try to get their attention so they will stand up and say Whooa to FMCSA. I am in night distribution and we started using the rules 4 weeks ago so we could have it right on July 1st. So far it has cost me about $268.00 per week plus I am not at home as much. That 30 min break does have affect. We are under the gun to deliver then take a break....that 30 min often is wasted beside the road where there are no facilities....later down road have to stop for restroom or to eat. Had this been allowed w/3-10 min or 2-15 min would have allowed flexibility and not a penalty upon the driver. The 2 time frame back to back should have been any time with 4 hours on back to back days. It is a killer for night distribution under current rules.

  10. 10. Kevin J. Reidy [ July 14, 2013 @ 02:01PM ]

    @Ernie: You do know that these rules were proposed under the aegis of the *Republican* Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, right? You know, the Ray LaHood that was TransSec under George W. Bush, right?
    You also know that the new rules detrimentally affect the unionized LTL companies more than any other niche in this industry, right?


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