So what do some of the heavyweights in the trucking, transportation, and logistics industries have to say about the HOS rule changes?
Tom Sanderson at Transplace puts a powerful punch in his blog here.
"Quite simply, this is nuts."
"The industry has shown dramatically better safety results under the 2003 rules, so there is no reason and no scientific evidence to justify reducing driving hours from 11 to 10. The industry hoped for simplification, but got a hodgepodge of exceptions and loopholes that are going to be very difficult for drivers to follow. As if driver logs are not complicated enough already, how can the agency expect drivers to now make sure that it is OK twice a week to work 16 hours but not three times? Restricting the 34 hour restart to include two midnight-to-6-AM windows is not only complicated, but easily turns 34 hours into 40 to 48 hours, depending on when the 34 hours starts."
And Adrian Gonzales at Logistics ViewPoints says:
"Here is my main takeaway: the Hours of Service rules are starting to rival our tax code in complexity. Maybe it’s just me, but the more I try to make sense of the rules, the more confused I get. And I can’t help but wonder: how long until the law of diminishing returns kicks in?"
The American Trucking Association (ATA) is critical of the FMCSA's proposed rules, citing safety concerns of its own.
The ATA states that the decreased allowable driving time will create safety concerns on the road. First, the ATA notes that the added time constraints will lead to more aggressive driving in order to complete jobs. Second, losing the hour will force trucking companies to put additional drivers on the road in order to get jobs done. Many of these additional drivers will be less experienced, creating safety issues for other drivers on the road.
Bill Graves, ATA CEO, stated that the proposed HOS rules reducing drive-time by one hour and significantly adjusting restart time "will be enormously expensive for trucking and the economy." Graves noted the FMSCA estimate of $2.2 billion in additional costs.
Further, Graves notes that U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) statistics show that fatal accidents are down 33 percent since 2003. Graves suggests, in light of the trucking industry's safety record, that the proposed changes have "everything to do with politics and little or nothing to do with highway safety or driver health."
Mike Regan, CEO of TranzAct Technologies, says in Supply Chain Digest, you have to really look closely at the new rules to understand their impact—and all told, it probably isn't good for trucking.
"On the surface, it looks like it could have been much worse," Regan told SCDigest. "The DOT left themselves some wiggle room. For example, they did not specifically increase the restart period (e.g., from 34 to 40 or 48 hours), and they did not officially mandate a reduction to 10 hours. So it looks like it was designed as a middle-of-the-road proposal."
However, the result may not nearly be so benign, Regan says.
"Dig a little deeper and you start to understand that this is a poorly designed compromise that pleases few of the parties that have been fighting this battle," he notes.
For example, by mandating that the 34 hour period include at least two periods between 12:00 am and 6:00 am, the rule in effect mandates that a driver be off from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am two days later.
While this may not seem like a big deal to some shippers, Regan warns against dismissing it. "This is actually a significant change," he says.
He also says that by refusing to stake out a position on the 11 versus 10 hour question, the DOT is basically inviting a battle of lobbyists, which is a questionable way to set national transportation policies.
Regan also believes that the rules will be very difficult to enforce without Electronic On Board Recorders (EOBRs), and he notes some think the rules may have been written this way to force the EOBR requirement issue.