Hours of Service Reform Remains in Flux…at Least for Now

Since 2012, drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) have had to comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours of service (HOS) regulations. Originally drafted in 2011 and then put into place in the following year, HOS requires CMV drivers to take breaks from driving after periods of 10-14 hours (depending on the individual situation – see FCMA’s chart here for specifics).

This year, at least one HOS detail remains in flux as the U.S. government and industry groups figure out how to address it. At issue is the stipulation that the required breaks include two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. home terminal time that may be not be used once per week (or 168 hours) measured from the beginning of the previous restart.

This requirement falls under the FMCSA’s 60/70-hour limit, which states that drivers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days, and that a driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015, which was enacted on December 16, 2014, suspended enforcement of the home terminal time requirement (For more information see FMCSA’s Federal Register notice here.)

Enforcement of these requirements remained suspended until the FMCSA submitted the CMV Driver Restart Study final report to Congress.

Changes are Coming, But Remain on Hold for Now

For now at least, the issue of whether drivers need to accumulate home terminal time during the designated overnight periods remains in flux. According to Overdrive, on September 22 the Senate unveiled a short-term government spending bill meant to stave off a government shutdown by funding the government through early December. The bill didn’t include any provisions related to HOS reform.

“Reports indicated lawmakers would use the bill to fix a ‘legislative glitch’ initiated last December that could remove the 34-hour restart from HOS regulations, meaning truckers could not use a restart if they wanted,” Overdrive reports. “But the Senate bill, made public Thursday, includes no such fix.”

Both the House and the Senate must pass an HOS measure or subject the trucking industry to one of two options: A return to 2013 hours of service rules, in which truckers’ restarts must include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods, or a return to 2004 rules, in which truckers would not have a 34-hour restart at their disposal.

Impact on Logistics and Transportation

Since being introduced in 2012, HOS has impacted transportation networks and the logistics/warehouse operations supported by these networks. In Hours Of Service Will Affect Warehouse Operations And Networks Too, for example, ARC Advisory Group’s Steve Banker discussed the implications on national logistics—mainly, the need to hire more drivers and the resultant increases in transportation costs.

In the article, Banker talked about how regional distributors serving customers out of a particular warehouse could find their service area restricted by HOS.

“If we assume an average speed of 50 miles per hour and we apply the rule that ‘property-carrying drivers’ may now drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty,” he writes, “we end up with a coverage zone of 550 miles. If the distributor was routinely giving drivers 12-hour shifts or more, the coverage zone has shrunk by at least 50 miles. In short, these distributors may end up losing sales as their territories shrink.”

Banker also discussed the critical nature of transportation management systems (TMS) and warehouse management systems (WMS) for avoiding these and other HOS-related issues. “A WMS/TMS platform with joint visibility to the dock schedule, warehouse managers with visibility to inbound trucks that will not make their appointments on time, a yard management module that increases the efficiency yard jockeys, and a WMS cockpit that allows managers to easily move warehouse workers from one set of tasks to another, can all help insure faster truck turnarounds.”

As the HOS 34-hour rule is discussed and debated, shippers should understand that at least historically, the 70-hour working window has had the greatest impact on the long-haul driver (i.e, the individual who is driving 11 hours a day). With the regionalization of the marketplace, those long-haul drivers are “bumping dock” more frequently—as much as 10, 12 or 14 times a week. As such, those hours spent sitting at the dock absorbs a lot of the driver’s ability to be on duty. With this in mind, the 34-hour reset rule could prohibit these individuals from being able to service our industry.

Odyssey is keeping an eye on HOS reform

Here at Odyssey we are keeping an eye on the legislative and industry activity related to HOS. If you have any specific questions about your supply chain and how it will be impacted by these new requirements, please reach out to your Odyssey representative.