Changes in Hours of Service to take effect

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has now finalized the changes to the service hours affecting all drivers on the road. According to the FMCSA spokesman, the actual “effective date” of the alterations occurred over a year ago, however, the majority of carriers have not been adhering to the new regulations up to this point.

Some owners and operates have given the changes a chance, but, as is common with previous revisions, any additional restrictions on companies are a tough sale at the outset.

Prior to the new regulations taking effect, some fleets of drivers already had two hours of off-duty time in place for driving teams that could be taken before or after at least eight hours of sleep. The use of such procedures have been documented through electronic logging systems that were established in order for drivers to monitor the hours they spend driving.

Many of the concerns related to the new regulations are tied to particular seasonal hauls. Changes affecting restart times for certain hauls, particularly those related to farming products, will leave drivers with an excessive amount of idle time while on duty. These situations max drivers out at 70 hours in as little as five days, leaving them waiting for the turnover in order to legally log more hours.

Finding the silver lining in these new regulations for owners involves looking at what part of the job these regulations have not restricted. The FMCSA would have stepped on many more toes if they had eliminated the option for dividing the 10-hour sleeping periods into one eight-hour block and one two-hour block. Instead, the organization opted for changing the actual definition of on-duty drivers. This change does, however, have the potential to keep drivers at shipping and receiving ports for longer than is necessary in most instances. The arguments against the regulations cite such changes as impeding the driver when it comes to maximizing their on-duty hours.

Drivers themselves are concerned that carriers will use the new on-duty definition as a means to reduce driver detention pay. Whether or not this concern will become a widespread problem for the employees is yet to be seen. Most workers on the road have resolved themselves to giving the new regulations a chance to take effect before they judge the ultimate results on their individual income.

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