Safety & Compliance

HOS Log: A Two-Day Trip Becomes a Three-Day Trip

June 20, 2013

By Mark Montague, DAT Industry Pricing Analyst

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Editor’s note: Earlier this week we brought you a story that summarizes changes in hours of service regulations that take effect July 1, by Kevin Scullin, product manager, DAT CarrierWatch. In this follow-up, by Mark Montague, DAT Industry Pricing Analyst, he looks at how these changes could result in it taking more time to more freight in certain lanes.

My colleague Kevin Scullin summarized the changes to the hours of service in his recent blog post. It started me thinking about the practical effects of the new HOS rules on certain popular lanes that cover a length of haul of about 1,000 miles. Typically, a trip like that will take two days.

A few of the HOS rules can make the timing of a driver's on-duty hours critical to a successful trip. For example, the lane from Chicago to Houston, typically a two-day trip, could be tricky under the new HOS rules. 

Credit: DAT
Credit: DAT

Pre-trip: Early Saturday Morning

2:00 - 2:15 AM

A driver pulls into his terminal in Chicago two hours late, returning from Grovesport, Ohio at 2:00 a.m. on a Saturday. He parks the truck, retrieves his personal car and goes home to sleep.

Because of a delay on the way back from Grovesport, he misses the 1:00 a.m. cut-off time for his 34-hour restart. Under the new HOS rules, he needs to rest for two periods from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. as part of his restart period, so he is not eligible to drive again until 5:00 a.m.Monday. That is 51 hours away, which means the driver got a 17-hour penalty for missing his pick-up by one hour. Ordinarily, he would prefer to pick up his next load Sunday night, to avoid traffic leaving Chicago. Still, a 5:00 a.m. departure on Monday should give him plenty of time for a Tuesday 3:00 a.m. delivery in Houston, Texas. The trip to Houston is 1,088 miles, according to PC-Miler. It usually takes about 19 hours of driving, and he has a 34-hour time period to complete the trip. That's never been a problem.

Day 1 - Monday

5:00 a.m.- 5:30 a.m, Pick Up and Departure

The driver arrives back at the truck terminal at 5:01 a.m. Monday and spends 15 minutes pre-tripping his equipment. He locates the trailer, hooks and departs the yard at 5:30 a.m. This starts his driving clock, while his on-duty clock is at 30 minutes. 

5:30 a.m. - 6:45 a.m.

He enters Interstate 55, which is clogged with reverse commuters  who live in Chicago and work in the high-tech corridor along the interstate. It takes an hour and fifteen minutes to run the 39 miles to Joliet.

6:45 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

The remainder of the day goes better, except near Mount Vernon, Ill. where road construction has created a single lane of traffic averaging 40 miles per mile for about 45 minutes. The driver takes his mandatory 30-minute break shortly after that. It's lunchtime, so he takes an extra 15 minutes to eat and stretch his legs.

1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

The driver gets back on the road and drives two more hours, then stops for coffee and checks his email.

3:15 p.m. - 6:15 p.m.

After three more hours on the road, the driver finds a truck stop -- there are three in West Memphis, Ark. -- and shuts down for his mandatory ten-hour rest break. His off-duty clock kicks in at 7:00 p.m., which is 14 hours since he entered the terminal that morning.

Day 1 Summary: 559 miles in 11 hours of driving.

Day 2 - Tuesday

4:15 a.m. - 5:00 a.m. 

After ten hours of rest, the driver still has to wait until 5:00 a.m. because his ten-hour off-duty clock only reset at 7:00 p.m.. He eats a leisurely breakfast at the truck stop, pre-trips his equipment and gets back behind the wheel.

5:00 a.m. - 7:00 a.m. 

At 7:00 a.m. he is approaching the Little Rock city limits. He arrives just before rush hour, as dozens of other big rigs are trying to beat the traffic, creating choke points on Arkansas River bridges into and out of this otherwise quiet metropolis. It takes half an hour to travel approximately 22 miles.

7:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

All goes well until he reaches Texarkana. Another delay, this time an accident, reduces speed to 10 mph for 30 minutes. Now the driver is worried. Will he make his 3:00 p.m. appointment in Houston?

9:30 a.m. - 3:00 a.m.

The driver has 5.5 hours left to drive 295 miles, which would require an average speed of 53.6 mph and no delays. PC-Miler says that travel time from Texarkana to Houston is 5.5 hours. The driver knows that Highway 49 is a four-lane road, but it's not an interstate, so there may be delays en route. Even though Texas has the highest speed limits in the country, his truck has a governor that prevents him from driving faster than 65.

Plus, he still needs to take a mandatory 30-minute break before he has driven eight hours, leaving him just 5 hours of drive time. That means he needs to average 59 miles per hour on Highway 49, or risk missing his appointment. This is not necessarily a problem, as long as it is legal and safe to drive 65 mph. But if he encounters one of those famous Texas thunderstorms, how does that affect his decision?

 The Dliemma

Houston, we have a problem. The driver knows that if he misses the 3:00 p.m. slot by more than half an hour, he will be re-scheduled. He also knows that this particular dock does only loading in the mornings, so his next available appointment for unloading won't be until 1:00 p.m. the next day.

What should the driver do? Call his dispatcher and ask to be re-scheduled? Put the pedal to the metal all the way to Houston, and pray he doesn't hit any serious traffic or bad driving conditions? Or should he drive at a more moderate speed and try to talk his way into a late drop-off at the dock? What if this type of scheduling snafu happens in a state where the speed limit for trucks is 55 or less? 

What would you do if you were the driver? Does it make a difference if he is an owner-operator rather than a company driver? 

Republished with permission from DAT. 


  1. 1. William [ June 20, 2013 @ 11:19AM ]

    It's not a problem now, it's not going to be one either. I always take a 2 hr break in the middle of my 11 hr driving and I can still do this run in 2 days at 62 mph. There is just a bunch of crybabys out here today, don't like the rules? Go do something else and leave the freight hauling to the ones who will.

  2. 2. maestaz [ June 21, 2013 @ 04:00AM ]

    in california the speed limit is there is no going 62..or 59.5....just 55..and with all the traffic &'re lucky if you average instead of calling the other drivers that have concerns..crybabys..why don't you look at their situation first..idiot....these mandatory 30 minute breaks..and mandatory 1 - 5 a.m. off-duty time are made by idiots sitting in an office trying to tell me how to business..i know what is best for my business..and know how to operate it safely..

  3. 3. Kurt [ June 21, 2013 @ 01:36PM ]

    I have to question the beginning of this scenario. Instead of waiting until the full time has elapsed to allow a reset, that is now no longer really 34 hours, could the driver have left earlier using whatever hours became available from the recap.
    I think the 34 hour reset will be more of a luxury or fluke of coincidence/situation, and the old way of only having the hours that become available from the recap may actually be more productive than losing time to meet the changed rule.

  4. 4. Junk Science Skeptic [ June 21, 2013 @ 02:19PM ]

    For those who crafted the rules, micro-management is a feature, not a bug. When everybody outside the trucking industry gets a heckler's veto over trucking HOS rules, it's no surprise that the end result is to make trucking less efficient.

  5. 5. Jim B [ June 21, 2013 @ 03:37PM ]

    In my situation it is alleged these new H.O.S. rules are to have little or no effect on local 'intra-state' construction related drivers. From the way I understand it, this is supposed to affect 'inter-state' O.T.R. drivers only. That is to be seen. I am an owner operator who uses a class 8 tractor trailer to perform road construction work both on/off road without ever leaving the state and never crossing state lines. My typical day is 16-hrs long, 5 day weeks, always off on weekends. I personally will not be following federal rules for 1/2 hr break after 8-hrs since I spend most of my day sitting and working off road. States need to make available exemptions for drivers in the construction field. Currently I am supposed to follow federal rules but don't because I am on-call 24/7. Clarification and special exceptions need to be made for myself and other drivers in my situation who are caught in the middle of a confusing rule making situation. As for the road drivers, I feel sorry for what they are about to get into because nothing in this business is predictable, not traffic, not equipment, nor the weather. Now more than ever, flat-rate, and pay-per-mile pay schedules need to be abolished and all commercial drivers in all divisions need to be put on hourly clocks. Only then will this bring everyone into compliance and slow trucks way down. Paying a driver to risk his or someone else's life is just not worth it. I say put all commercial drivers (truck, bus, construction, municipal) on an hourly clock. I guarantee 55 will become the rule.

  6. 6. BarbRRB [ June 22, 2013 @ 04:22AM ]

    I am a local/regional driver and get paid by the hour. I do not work for free and my pay reflects my hours worked. My biggest gripe is trying to get home every day. One rule is not for all truck drivers. One trip I had 35 miles to go and out of hours.

  7. 7. BarbRRB [ June 22, 2013 @ 04:23AM ]

    I am a local/regional driver and get paid by the hour. I do not work for free and my pay reflects my hours worked. My biggest gripe is trying to get home every day. One rule is not for all truck drivers. One trip I had 35 miles to go and out of hours.

  8. 8. Federal Steve [ June 24, 2013 @ 04:23AM ]

    Nice to know that Jim B is constantly in violation of the current 14-hour rule (one 16-hour period allowed) and will be constantly violating the 30 minute mandatory break after 8 hours on-duty. He also violates the 60 hour limit since he does not operate 7 days per week. He is one of the reasons that the FMCSA has HOS rules. God forbid that he ever has an accident in the violation period! In addition, the 34-hour reset is "voluntary" and the driver can operate when time is available. He does not have to wait for the two 1 am to 5 am for the 34-hour reset. Kurt (above) is correct, the driver just goes back to the rolling 60 or 70 hour log recap for hours available.

  9. 9. Robert Martens [ June 24, 2013 @ 07:17AM ]

    While the new 34 hr provision is a law, it's only an option for the driver. What we don't see here is the reason for the reset at the beginning, or if it is necessary to make hours available on the other end. If the driver was out of hours, and needed the reset, then the story's correct, he was being punished for not making a pick up on time. We don't see the reason for the delay, we assume it wasn't driver error. Based on the story and current industry logic which is standard practice to maximize the drivers hours every week, we are lead to believe that the driver needed the reset.
    Starting at rush hour places a truck into a higher volume of traffic, thereby creating a higher potential for a collision. In reality sitting for an extra day to cover the reset requirement did nothing to make him any safer, and in this instance it has the real potential for the opposite effect. More traffic, the greater the risk, common sense there, and verified by the same statistics special interest groups and the FMCSA are using to push these new rules.
    Since it appears that the FMCSA and all these special interest groups wont leave it alone as far as HOS, and keep trying to create problems or increase the already existing ones, the idea of just dealing with it isn't good enough. It isn't about being a crybaby, it is about the industry being governed by a bunch of pencil pushers who have no real knowledge of the actual day to day job, and just want to control the industry to fit inside their agendas or vendettas. That isn't about safety, it's just about controlling the drivers life, in a way indentured servitude. The regulations aren't going to make a drivers life easier, because safety does not fit into box regulated by a clock. Look at the direction of the current regulations, it is also about taking away the rights of the individual for a 'supposed' greater good, which can't be proven.
    JimB, you're why this industry is going the way it is. quit complaining.

  10. 10. Chad [ June 25, 2013 @ 10:06PM ]

    While reading the situation above. The main and big problem is he left late. He stopped way to many times messing around. These new rules r not hard to understand. There no reason to stop for 2 hours like I just read in one of the drivers said he does. How do u get anywhere in time messing around in a truck stop. These drivers r crying over rules that r not hard to understand. The driver knows where he has to be for his appointment time. Do your job and do it legal and leave in plenty of time where u can take your 30 min break. No reasons to stop for 2 hours every day. U Caint help traffic but if u been driving long enough out here u pretty much know the rush hour times. To me it sounds like some of these drivers r just lazy. Want to lay around when they get the chance to. So if they don't make there appointment times. It's there own falt. Not the company or anyone else. The driver knows when he or she needs to be there. Run on recaps. If u caunt handle the rules and regulation then u need to find another profession. I hear drivers crying about electronic logs. They say u Caint get anywhere. Well that bunch of BS. I do several stops a day. Plus get good miles. I been running the new HOS for about 2 months and have no problem with them.

  11. 11. Chad [ June 26, 2013 @ 07:26AM ]

    Another fact is the new HOS is not hurting anybody. It's the drivers that want to stay home knowing there load has to be 800 or 900 miles away the next day. So they run it in a day. That's the big problem. Leave on time. Get there on time.

  12. 12. mitchell moore [ June 26, 2013 @ 07:48AM ]

    Arriving Saturday morning and not departing the terminal until Monday?? The 34 restart is a provision, not mandatory. Did this driver have available hours that permitted him to begin his trip prior to 51 hours after his arrival to home terminal?? Aside from the time not utilized during this period, how about the leisurely breakfast after which he returned to the road at 7:00 instead of 5:00-5:30 which he could have done legally after a thorough pretrip. In addition to the required 30 minute break, he took a little time to grab a snack and then he checked his email??? This whole scenario can be resolved easily with proper TRIP PLANNING. Articles like this that do not provide complete information create panic within our industry. I am certainly glad that this driver does not work for my company. In the scenario described he would have been charged with a preventable service failure. With all we have to deal with in today's climate why do we insist on publishing unresearched, unfounded and incomplete information simply for the desired reaction of havoc???I would appreciate a response from the writer as to the reasons that all of the details of the scenario were not provided. Simply blaming the DOT for unreasonable regulations will not fool those of us in the industry that refuse to react with a knee-jerk, and further fuel the motivation for your misguided analogy. Well informed decisions and action plans can be devised with success only if provided all of the facts at the outset. The obvious and flagrant omissions in this article were disappointing.

  13. 13. Jakebrake [ July 01, 2013 @ 07:02PM ]

    Oh how I miss the days of racing other drivers south on I-81 in the middle of the night.

  14. 14. mudbone [ July 24, 2013 @ 04:48PM ]

    Interesting all the comments...noone mentioned family time, time to break the rigors of driving safely. No industry perid. People who administrate in this industry, go home to luxury of a comfortable bed, the same toilet, watch tv and kiss your kids every nite need not dictate what a professional driver should complain about. This is more than a job, its a profession a career and a lifestyle. The whiners are the those sitting behind the desks at administrating for 8hrs and havnt set foot in the world of professional drive.


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