More than 80 percent of motor carriers surveyed have experienced a loss of productivity since new hours-of-service (HOS) rules went into full effect for commercial truck drivers on July 1, with almost half responding that they require more drivers to haul the same amount of freight, according to an economic impact study released Monday by the research arm of the American Trucking Associations.
Under the new rules, drivers must take a 30-minute rest break during their first eight hours behind the wheel each day, can only work 70 hours in a seven-day period (down from 82 hours) and must go off duty for at least 34 hours at the end of their work week and that "restart" period must include two periods that run from 1. a.m. to 5 a.m. Trucking officials say daily rest breaks often end up being closer to an hour by the time truckers find parking, shut down their engines, go inside a rest stop and hit the road again. The 34-hour restart is also problematic for many companies because drivers can end up off duty for several more hours, especially if they drive at night and end their shift on a Friday morning. Instead of starting work on a Sunday night, the driver has to wait until Monday morning and then has to work when congestion is at its worst in urban areas.
Among commercial drivers surveyed by the American Transportation Research Institute, 82.5 percent said the new HOS rules have negatively impacted their quality of life, with more than 66 percent indicating increased levels of fatigue. The majority of drivers (67 percent) also report decreases in pay since the rules took effect.
ATRI says over-the-road drivers will end up losing $1.6 billion to $3.9 billion in wages per year because of the safety rules.
ATRI's analysis is based on surveys of more than 2,300 commercial drivers and 400 motor carriers as well as a detailed analysis of logbook data representing more than 40,000 commercial drivers.
“We anticipated significant impacts on our operations and across the entire supply chain from the new rules and our experience since July 1st is bearing that out,” Kevin Burch, president of Jet Express, said in an ATRI news release. “ATRI’s analysis clearly documents the productivity impacts and real financial costs being borne by carriers and drivers. It’s only a matter of time before these impacts ripple throughout the nation’s economy.”
Some motor carriers and analysts say productivity has been cut 2 to 3 percent so far because of the new work rules.
(The impact of federal safety regulations, including hours-of-service, on the trucking industry and its customers are the topic of the cover story in the December issue of American Shippe
r, the digital version of which will be available later this week.)