If there’s one subject you can rely on for heated debate in trucking circles, it’s Hours of Service regulations. And the new 34 Hour Restart rule is a particular point of contention.
Recently, parties on all sides of the issue presented their arguments to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia—and they proved this time would be no different.
With new HOS rules slated to take effect on July 1, 2013, the FMCSA is holding firm on their position, while the trucking industry argues the changes place an undue burden on carriers and drivers, and safety groups contend the regulations don’t go nearly far enough.
34 Hour Restart Rule as released in regulation
If the FMCSA’s proposed update to the current 34 hour restart goes into effect this summer, it would mean drivers:
- Must include two periods of 1 AM to 5 AM home terminal time to restart their 60/70 hour clock
- May only use the restart once every seven days
The agency argues that chronic driver fatigue and health issues, as well as an increased crash risk for fatigued drivers are the forces behind this change.
Potential impacts on the trucking industry
In February 2012, the ATA filed a lawsuit, attempting to overturn the restart. Not only does the association believe the change will overly burden the industry; it also contends that the FMCSA’s studies have overstated the safety benefits of the rule.
ATA has also voiced concerns about forcing drivers to start their shifts during morning rush hour, when crash risk is higher, as well as the economic impact on businesses that rely on early morning deliveries, like restaurants’ and grocers’ perishable foods shipments.
Of course, there are productivity loses on the part of carriers to be considered, as well.
Most estimates predict a single digit loss in driver and asset productivity. Schneider National estimated in 2011 that HOS rule changes would undercut their productivity by 5%. The company has said that, in order to prevent loss of income that might push more drivers out of the industry, it would have to increase driver pay by $3000.
So, what do drivers think of the 34 hour restart?
Pete Eide says, “Limiting it to one reset every seven days. That’s my big hang up. I usually run about 50 hours on my log. Take a reset. Run another 50. And repeat. The only way I could make my schedule work if this stays is to run recap. And it has a good chance of costing me income.”
Meanwhile, Allen John Sokol had this to say: “The biggest thing wrong with it is the 2, midnight to 6 AM, periods before reset. This will put all the trucks on the road at the worst possible time, the morning rush hour! Bring back the split sleeper option, it worked great back in the day.”
Richard Gaskill expressed another fear we’ve heard across social media channels, “Carriers that need trucks moving during those hours aren’t going to have the trucks sit until 5 a.m. They are going to cut drivers hours so they don’t need a restart.”
Other concerns swirl around the already limited availability of parking. With truck stops filling up earlier than ever before, no ramp parking laws, limited to no overnight parking at shippers’ locations—it presents a real logistical problem, as well.
So, now we wait for a decision.
And we’ll continue to debate the rule in the meantime.