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Truckers expect major changes to HOS rule

ARLINGTON, Va. – A newly proposed U.S. hours-of-service rule is reportedly in the final stages of White House approval, but American carriers are already anticipating some major changes.

Official details of the proposal are expected to be released any day now, but todaystrucking.com obtained an American Trucking Associations-authored white paper which states that the carrier group is expecting it will include a reduction in driving time, an increase in the number of hours required to restart a driver's weekly on-duty period, and at least one mandatory rest break during each shift.

The paper, which ATA says will be uploaded later today at a new site, (www.safedriverhours.com) which was created to promote the safety benefits of the current rules and dispel myths peddled by special interest groups that the current rules are unsafe.

The ATA says that the evidence clearly shows that the trucking industry has operated safely and efficiently since the rules took effect in 2004.

"ATA strongly supports retention of the current and safe rules with one exception -- more rest options through greater flexibility in the sleeper berth rule," it stated.  

Teamsters and special interest groups have spent the
last seven years trying to turn the clock
on HOS. We'll find out soon if they got their way.

The paper reiterates ATA's position that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has no legal or scientific justification to make the anticipated changes and, in fact, would undermine its own conclusions on the matter.

"When viewed against (the) sterling safety record, it seems plain that DOT’s willingness to reconsider the HOS rules has almost everything to do with politics and little or nothing to do with highway safety," the paper states. "By further restricting driving and work time, the Obama Administration will be simply supporting organized labor’s effort to swell its ranks by forcing inefficiencies on the trucking industry which would force motor carriers to hire more drivers to haul the same amount of freight -- drivers who the Teamsters would hope some day to organize."

Hard-pressed to argue against the safety benefits, the administration, ATA predicts, is likely to try and justify any HOS changes as needed for driver health. But even this argument would be specious, says ATA.

"Among other things, the agency has noted that drivers are not driving any more hours per week under the new rules than before, and that the enormous improvements in diesel exhaust reduction and other modern truck features drastically limit the health risks associated with driving."

It was the issue of "driver health" that convinced a U.S. Court of Appeals to throw out the rules in 2004 and again in 2007. The court sided with legal challengers, The Teamsters and notorious trucking critic Public Citizen, because the rules supposedly failed "to consider the impact on the health of drivers."

To appease the court, DOT reissued a rule in 2005 that cancelled the popular split sleeper berth provision and also stated that driver health was properly considered in the rulemaking process. The core aspects of the rule -- the 11-hour drive time and 34-hour restart provisions – were kept intact, though, much to the chagrin of industry critics.

Legal challenges and appeals were traded back and forth a couple more times over the following four years.

Then in 2009 the Obama FMCSA agreed to go back to the drawing board and revise the rule if Public Citizen agreed not to go through with another court challenge.

Even then, there was speculation that less allowable driving time, at the very least, would be part of the changes in order keep critics from raising their swords again.

Hopefully for the industry, the cuts will be minor and not in line with Public Citizen's demand of eight maximum hours behind the wheel.

The white paper reminds FMCSA of its own cost benefit analysis, estimating an annual cost of over $2.25 billion to the industry if the daily maximum drive time was reduced by just one hour and the 34 hour restart provision was significantly changed.

"Indeed," states the paper, "in 2008, the agency expressly stated that eliminating the 11th driving hour was 'unlikely to be cost effective under any reasonable set of circumstances.'

"Finally, by restricting truck driver productivity and forcing the use of more inexperienced drivers, the revised rules are likely to result in more highway crashes -- new drivers present more than 3 times the risk of crashes than their more experienced counterparts."

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I've been driving a truck for 30 plus years and tyhe hos we have now works good. We are not robots for you to say we have to take a break before 7 hours. If iI take a break then that will make me more tired. The 11 hour window works most of the time I don't use the entire 11 but it sure is good to have it available. When I get close to a big city at rush hour I stop for a little while to let traffic thin out brfore going through so the way the hos is fine the way it is now. I feel the reason this is even being discussed is for the unions so they can possibly get more members. If enacted this would cost consumers alot more money and at this time would be bad. These hos right now has proved to be more safe every year it is in effect so why try to fix something that is working just great.


why change something that is working! the only change that should be changed is to have a 30 minute break every 5 hours

Peter Lengyel

If you want to see safer highways, then you ought to pay us by the hour. I spend hours waiting to get loaded and unloaded at times without compensation. These new HOS regs. wont make any difference in highway safety. Every time we turn around there are new electronic gadgets to distract drivers. That is where part of the problem lies, is distracted drivers.I see it on a daily basis, i.e. texting talking on cell phones w/o hands free devices or just daydreaming. When all is said and done, the only thing these new regs. will do is cut my pay some more. I have been driving over the road for over 18 years and have been an owner operator for over 11 years. The only thing I've seen is costs go up and freight rates go down or remain stagnant. All the regs. wont change a thing until the attitudes of the people behind the wheel of cars and trucks change.


I still say throw out the log book Rules let the drivers decide when they will sleep and when they feel like driving. The Drivers are all different people and so the periods they drive must be as differnt as the drivers. For some they might want to take a nap for an hour or two in the afternoon and so it should not be mandatory to sleep 8 hours or only two breaks allowed to make up 8 hours of which one has two be 2 hours which makes the next one 6 Hrs. If I want to drive 3 or 4 hours and have a 1.5 hr sleep and then go 5 hours and have a 3 hour nap than go 3 hours and have a 2.5 hour break and than go have a meal and drive for 4 hours and take another 2 hour break I should be able to do it. Every day is a different scedule and so differnt driving patterns. The Government has no right to regulate when I will rest based on their ideas, cause a man or womens periods of rest will change with there Mental emotional state based on the circumstances they have just experienced. Example types of traffic conditions and weather conditions spring, summer long days or winter fall short days, snow , rain, and last meals or beverage they just ate. Some days I will drive 5 hours straight then have a 1.5 hour break for lunch than drive 4 hours than take a 1.5 hour for dinner break than two or three hours driving than a half or 3/4 coffee break than go another two or three hours. But that is illegal except up in the Northern part of Canada and Alaska. It is sure funny that when I am in California I can only work driving 11 hrs and work 14 hours but when I am up North on far more dangerous roads and conditions I can drive 17 hours legal in extreme weather or 15 hours legal under normal conditions. Which proves the 11 hour rule is BS and is also designed to sell Bunk heaters. When I was Trucking in the 1970 you did not need a Bunk heater cause the Truck was only shut down for about 4 hours or less before you was going again. With the 8 hr and ten hr rules you have to keep it running or have a Bunk heater or Air conditioning so you you can sleep or just lay there looking at the ceiling waiting for the time to pass to stay legal now. The new Rules are all about pleasing people who meddled in the Trucking business like MAD who has no experience in Trucking and should have Zero input into Trucking H.O.S.. And the Government DOT just love the HOS Rules cause they know they will catch some driver three or 5 days out on the road who might have forgot to make the right notation in his log book thinking he would bring it up to date later when he had more time. The best thing that could happen to the Trucking industry is for the Log book regulations be cancelled and it be left up to the Driver to decide when they will drive, eat, sleep like it use to be when I started out Trucking in 1968 and into the 1970s. ps mEALS COST MORE THAN $10.00 MORE LIKE AND AVERAGE OF $15 PER MEAL IF YOU ARE EATING HEALTHY.


The hours that the trucks are on is something that works so let's go and fix something that is not broke. We are the the ones who work day in and out and all the adds are saying big money. So just say we make 1000.00 per week the tax is around 250.00 and meals are around 10.00 per meal, so you are looking at 30.OO per day that is 210.00 per week and 50.00 a week for misc. and that leaves you with a grand total of 490.00. There are 168 hours per week so we make 3.04 per hour for the time we are gone so where is the money.


The bottom line is with the big trucking companies wanting more drive time than idle time. Idle the truck and it cost instead of makes money for the company. Keep the truck on the road and it makes money for the company. Drivers are not robots. I have said for years we as drivers should be able to make a decent living working 40 hrs a week but in reality that is not the way companies see it. It is about the profit margin and not the safety at all. "Trucks that turn earn". Time at docks loading and unloading take up about half the week alone. Then companies want a driver to blast 500 to 600 miles overnight for next day deliver after being up all day. I have seen it! This industry is so corrupt any rules that are put into effect cannot and will not be inforced do to shear manpower. It is kinda like the trigger lock on firearms....it's a law but cannot be enforced cause of limited police force.

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