Hours of Service: Trucking’s Top Concern – Again

October 20, 2015

By David Cullen

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Image: ATRI
Image: ATRI

PHILADELPHIA — For the third year in a row, a survey of carriers and drivers has found that Hours of Service rules stand out as the biggest concern facing trucking in the U.S. and Canada.

That’s per the American Transportation Research Institute’s annual list of trucking’s top-ten critical issues, presented here at the American Trucking Associations' Management Conference & Exhibition.

HOS tops the list again. ATRI said this time around its prominence as a key issue is being driven principally by the “uncertainty surrounding the future of the regulations” as well as “concern over the uncertain future of the current suspension of the [HOS] rules." By contrast, for the past two years, it was the substantial impact HOS was having on supply chains that kept it ranked first.

“Significant negative impacts on the industry from the 34-hour restart provisions first implemented in July 2013 have been documented by numerous sources,” the report states. “In its own research, ATRI found that 80 percent of motor carriers indicated a loss of productivity directly attributable to the now-suspended rules, and driver pay impacts were estimated to range from $1.6 billion to $3.9 billion annually. Although the restart provisions were suspended by Congress in December 2014, concern over their reinstatement continues pending FMCSA’s release of the results of its second field study.”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s “continued challenges with its Compliance, Safety, Accountability program” jumped a slot to take second place this year.

ATRI pointed out that CSA as a concern moved up in the face of both carriers and drivers continuing to question the relationship between the scores the program generates and safety performance.

“Research has documented that CSA’s safety measures, the seven Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories under which carriers and drivers are scored, are not a good predictor of carrier crash risk,” the report points out. “Additionally, there are disparities in how states collect and report safety performance data, and shippers are potentially misusing the data in the selection of carriers to haul freight. There is also a concern with the use of CSA scores as part of a Safety Fitness Determination proposed rulemaking.”

The driver shortage came in third. Not surprisingly, given, as ATRI noted, the “inability of carriers to find enough qualified drivers to meet the nation’s freight demand.” Right up there with it and retaining its number-four slot was concern about driver retention.

Having access to safe truck parking rounded out the top five issues on the list. ATRI advised that since first appearing as an issue in the survey, “parking has been on the rise as an industry concern. It initially ranked 8th in the 2012 survey and has steadily climbed to the top five issues.”

Completing the top ten in order of importance are the concerns raised by: electronic logging devices; driver health/wellness; the economy; transportation infrastructure/congestion/funding; and, lastly, driver distraction.

ATRI said the survey generated 1,388 complete responses, a 21 percent increase over last year. Respondents represented industry stakeholders from both the U.S. and Canada and included motor carriers and commercial drivers.

Along with ranking the issues, respondents ranked three strategies presented to them designed to address their selected issues. The ATRI report, which was commissioned by the American Trucking Associations, including the specific strategies for addressing each issue, will be used by the ATA Federation “to better focus its advocacy role.”

“There is perhaps no better benchmark for the challenges we face as motor carriers and drivers than ATRI’s annual survey of top industry issues,” noted ATA Chairman Duane Long, chairman of  Longistics, Raleigh, N.C.

“As issues climb in ranking each year, so does our collective need to aggressively identify solutions to address those issues," he added.

A copy of the survey results is available from ATRI.


  1. 1. Cliff Downing [ October 21, 2015 @ 03:33AM ]

    What these fleet dweebs and ATRI fail to understand, is that the same process, recapping previous hours, the same process that was used to continue driving since HOS rules came into effect 80 years ago, can still be used today. THERE IS NO MANDATE TO USE A 34 HR RESET. It is an option. Even under the more restrictive 34 hr reset provision that required 168 hrs between the beginning of previous and current reset provision, and the 0100-0500 mandated thing as part of the reset, one could still recap hours on the 7 or 8 day cycle (depending on operation) and continue to drive. Those of us that operated before all this reset stuff came about recapped our hours as needed and continued on. Theoretically operating 7 days a week for weeks on end, depending on hours used per day. That part of the regulations was never dropped when the 34 hr reset provision came along. One could, and still can, recap hours from previous day's driving time and continue on.

  2. 2. barbRRB [ October 21, 2015 @ 05:41AM ]

    I totally agree with re-caping Cliff. I re-cap when needed. It is like the computer does not offer it and people have no idea what or how to do this.

  3. 3. Richard [ October 31, 2015 @ 06:26PM ]

    What this industry needs (and I speak from 25 years of experience) is to END the antiquated module of pay by the mile and move to a salary based module that only expects you to run 2500-3000 miles per week PERIOD.

    This outdated method of driver pay is the reason for accidents, log book falsification and lack of proper rest.

    When you REQUIRE a driver to make the wheels turn based on a mileage pay scale your are DEMANDING that he violate the rules.

    It's very simple as a fleet... "We will pay you xxx dollars and we ask that you give us a fair week of work and we will get you home EVERY week" (because you are not giving up home time for a pay check)


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