On July 1, 2013, hours of service (HOS) regulations went into effect that had been published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration as a final rule in December of 2011. The implementation was despite a lawsuit that was submitted by American Trucking Associations, a lawsuit that’s still pending.
Read the first part of this two part series in the article Riding the Hours of Service "Merry Go Round"
To recap, as of July 1, 2013 commercial drivers are only allowed one 34-hour restart per seven days. Further, they must take an additional three-minute break when driving for eight consecutive hours. This must include two periods between 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. home terminal time and may only be used once per week.
We are midway through the month of living with the changed HOS regulations. The pros and cons of the changes are debated every day. Among the complaints are that the changes are costing the entire trucking industry millions of dollars to implement and further that they reduce drivers’ pay. Overdrive magazine reports that Dave Osiecki, of the American Trucking Associations, stated the rules for the break do not take into account the extra time it takes for drivers to find parking and get out of the truck. (Osiecki is ATA’s senior vice president for policy and regulatory affairs.)
Getting Some Official Guidance
On July 11, the FMCSA published revisions to guidance that had been first published in 1997. The revisions are intended to help drivers implement correctly the July 1 changes regarding taking mandatory breaks every eight hours on duty.
In short, the clarified guidance states conditions that must be met to log meal and other routine stops made during on-duty hours as off-duty break time:
- “The driver is relieved of all duty and responsibility for the care and custody of the vehicle, its accessories, and any cargo or passengers it may be carrying.
- During the stop, and for the duration of the stop, the driver must be at liberty to pursue activities of his/her own choosing.”
Living with the Law
[ic-r]Here are a few helpful tips to make sure you are operating within the guidelines of the new rule:
- Time management is the key to your success. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. Use your breaks wisely and efficiently to maximize your driving time.
- Trip planning is critical in maximizing your driving time. Schedule your stops for fueling, dining, showering and resting at convenient locations that will have the least distractions that might take more of your time than you would like.
- Vehicle inspections are very important. Do not overlook possible component failures while you’re in route to your delivery destinations. Take care of components showing signs of failure before leaving to avoid costly and timely repairs away from your home terminal.
The regulation are here to stay for now, well at least for now, so we have to do whatever we can to be efficient and safe on our roadways while operating within the rules.