My colleague Kevin Scullin summarized the changes to the Hours of Service (HOS) in his recent blog post. It started me thinking about the practical effects of the new HOS rules on certain popular lanes that cover a length of haul of about 1,000 miles. Typically, a trip like that will take two days. A few of the HOS rules can make the timing of a driver's on-duty hours critical to a successful trip. For example, the lane from Chicago to Houston, typically a two-day trip, could be tricky under the new HOS rules.
PRE-TRIP: EARLY SATURDAY MORNING
2:00 - 2:15 AM
A driver pulls into his terminal in Chicago two hours late, returning from Grovesport, Ohio at 2:00 AM on a Saturday. He parks the truck, retrieves his personal car and goes home to sleep.
Because of a delay on the way back from Grovesport, he misses the 1:00 AM cut-off time for his 34-hour restart. Under the new HOS rules, he needs to rest for two periods from 1:00 to 5:00 AM as part of his restart period, so he is not eligible to drive again until 5:00 AM Monday. That is 51 hours away, which means the driver got a 17-hour penalty for missing his pick-up by one hour.Ordinarily, he would prefer to pick up his next load Sunday night, to avoid traffic leaving Chicago. Still, a 5:00 AM departure on Monday should give him plenty of time for a Tuesday 3:00 PM delivery in Houston, TX. The trip to Houston is 1,088 miles, according to PC-Miler. It usually takes about 19 hours of driving, and he has a 34-hour time period to complete the trip. That's never been a problem.
DAY 1 - MONDAY
5:00 - 5:30 AM PICK-UP & DEPARTURE The driver arrives back at the truck terminal at 5:01 AM Monday and spends 15 minutes pre-tripping his equipment. He locates the trailer, hooks and departs the yard at 5:30 a.m. This starts his driving clock, while his on-duty clock is at 30 minutes.
5:30 AM - 6:45 AMHe enters Interstate 55, which is clogged with reverse commuters who live in Chicago and work in the high-tech corridor along the interstate. It takes an hour and fifteen minutes to run the 39 miles to Joliet.
6:45 AM - 1:00 PM The remainder of the day goes better, except near Mount Vernon, IL where road construction has created a single lane of traffic averaging 40 miles per mile for about 45 minutes. The driver takes his mandatory 30-minute break shortly after that. It's lunch time, so he takes an extra 15 minutes to eat and stretch his legs.
1:45 - 2:45 PMThe driver gets back on the road and drives two more hours, then stops for coffee and checks his email.
3:15 - 6:15 PM After three more hours on the road, the driver finds a truck stop -- there are three in West Memphis, AR -- and shuts down for his mandatory ten-hour rest break. His off-duty clock kicks in at 7:00 PM, which is 14 hours since he entered the terminal that morning.
DAY 1 SUMMARY: 559 miles in 11 hours of driving.
DAY 2 - TUESDAY
4:15 - 5:00 AM After ten hours of rest, the driver still has to wait until 5:00 AM because his ten-hour off-duty clock only reset at 7:00 PM. He eats a leisurely breakfast at the truck stop, pre-trips his equipment and gets back behind the wheel.
5:00 - 7:00 AM At 7:00 AM, he is approaching the Little Rock city limits. He arrives just before rush hour, as dozens of other big rigs are trying to beat the traffic, creating choke points on Arkansas River bridges into and out of this otherwise quiet metropolis. It takes half an hour to travel approximately 22 miles.
7:30 - 9:30 AMAll goes well until he reaches Texarkana. Another delay, this time an accident, reduces speed to 10 MPH for 30 minutes. Now the driver is worried. Will he make his 3:00 PM appointment is Houston?
9:30 AM - 3:00 PMThe driver has 5.5 hours left to drive 295 miles, which would require an average speed of 53.6 MPH and no delays. PC-Miler says that travel time from Texarkana to Houston is 5.5 hours. The driver knows that Highway 59 is a four-lane road, but it's not an interstate, so there may be delays en route. [Note: An earlier version of the blog mistakenly identified this route, but that typo was corrected by an alert reader. Thanks!] Even though Texas has the highest speed limits in the country, his truck has a governor that prevents him from driving faster than 65.
Plus, he still needs to take a mandatory 30-minute break before he has driven eight hours, leaving him just 5 hours of drive time. That means he needs to average 59 miles per hour or risk missing his appointment. This is not necessarily a problem, as long as it is legal and safe to drive 65 MPH. But if he encounters one of those famous Texas thunderstorms, how does that affect his decision?
Houston, we have a problem. The driver knows that if he misses the 3:00 PM slot by more than half an hour, he will be re-scheduled. He also knows that this particular dock does only loading in the mornings, so his next available appointment for unloading won't be until 1:00 PM the next day.
What should the driver do? Call his dispatcher and ask to be re-scheduled? Put the pedal to the metal all the way to Houston, and pray he doesn't hit any serious traffic or bad driving conditions? Or should he drive at a more moderate speed and try to talk his way into a late drop-off at the dock? What if this type of scheduling snafu happens in a state where the speed limit for trucks is 55 or less?
What would you do if you were the driver? Does it make a difference if he is an owner-operator rather than a company driver?
Please add your comments below. How will the HOS changes affect your business?
I believe that the new HOS will cause more accidents then preventing them. Already on E-logs just trying to make del is hard enough, and now the new 34 hr clock and the half hour break will cause more problem in getting home. These type of regulation should not be made by people that has no knowledge of how trucking works.
Before making any rules they should talk to drivers first thats my thinking
Why does the driver have to wait to take a 34 hour restart? He could pick up his load on Sunday night like he usually would. The slow day on Sunday would help save hours on his 70.
I think the 30 minute rest break is a great idea. Trucks are already required to stop every 150 miles or 3 hours to check the load, and vehicle. So take an extra 15 minutes to stretch your legs and eat. It's good for you.
I disagree with the 1am - 5am window, and feel bad for the drivers that it will negatively effect. The instances that I see it effecting my business are minimal.
The law will change again because this change is going to affect everybody in the US. It is sad to see something like this...how about we stop driving for a week and see what happens ;-)
I agree that this new law is not a good idea. Driving my car, I feel more confortable driving in the wee hours than in the middle of the day in thicker traffic. I believe this is descrimination on drivers who are driving in what i would call the 3rd shift. Don't mess with anyone's sleep.
Sounds like the driver needs to manage his time better. Is the 30 break really screwing home up when he takes a 45 min lunch? Why did he have to wait till 5am to leave when he got to the 1st mighty stop at 615? What was he doing from 615 to 700 pm? Now I agree the new 34 hour restart is crap but the 30 break I don't think is going to change many operations as I would bet most drives take at least 30 mins some where every day
Why can't the government leave the Trucking to us, I know when I get tired or fatigue better than some study or our government. If they want to control us just give us 600 mi. A day and let us run it at our on pace instead of trying to force us to do it when we may ne facing bad weather or rush hour traffic. If you want your food, gas, & toilet paper just leave us alone.
Everyone who has been driving for long time knows that these regulations will cause more traffic and delayed loads. They are made by people who ride luxurious cars not the hardcore trucks.
That will make trucking more hard . Will cause more accident as driver will be under stress always. Trucking is already killed by diesel and low freight price. This will be another reason to kill truckers.
i believe the HOS of service has force people and company out of the business,,, This is what you get when you have people that sit behind a desk are let to make laws.. I am very happy that i am close to retirement..Trucking is not a business that i want to be in any longer...... Good luck young guys and girls...
Most drivers will take the 34 hour restart on Saturday and Sunday. I can just imagine the truck traffic on Monday morning. not to mention the full rest areas and truck stops on the weekends. I think this a a bad thing. obviously creating more traffic at one time will create more accidents.
The new HOS will cause more log book falsification than anything. It's still going to fall upon the driver toget the job done no matter what! And with the cost of staying in business, I for one cannot afford to make less money!
I don't know who is trying to make this a "9 to 5" job, but I wish they'd quit trying. Most drivers get a 1/2 hour break while waiting to load or unload, they just don't show it on a log because they're technically still "On Duty not driving". The freight rates also don't give us (the truck owner) enough to pass on to the driver for his time. It's getting harder and harder to recruit OTR drivers because they can't make enough for the time they have in the job. Maybe when the companies needing their product don't aren't getting it when they need it there will be more of a stink put up?
Not only affect a persons business, how about the affect on the whole industry and even the whole country including the economy.
I think that all these rules make us all crazy out here. The driver needs more say in this HOS, not someone sitting in an office somewhere, that has never been in the truck and under this much pressure when driving. It is the real world not some computer model .