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Hours of service changes might be coming soon. The industry will be safer if they pass.


Late Thursday evening Texas Rep. (R) Brian Babin introduced a bill in the House that will change the hours of service regulations for American truckers. The bill is intended to modifiy the 14 hour rule and would allow drivers to enjoy a three-hour break without the time counting against the driver’s available hours. 

The act, called “The Responsible and Effective Standards for Truckers (REST) Act” would require the Department of Transportation to update Hours of Service regulations to allow a rest break once per 14-hour duty period for up to 3 consecutive hours as long as the driver is off-duty, effectively pausing the 14-hour clock.  However, drivers would still need to log ten consecutive hours off duty before the start of their next work shift.  It would also eliminate the existing 30-minute rest break requirement. 

While Rep. Babin has become a polarizing name in trucking circles with his fight over the ELD mandate, changing the hours of service rules would allow drivers to judge their own bodies and current conditions. It would also be an enormous victory for truckers. We also argue that it will make the industry safer. 

FreightWaves’ own Chief Analytics Officer, Dean Croke (who ran data science at the largest ELD provider in North America) argued that the 14 hour rule should be scrapped all together. In his article, Why the 14-hour clock rule is the most dangerous of them all, Croke states that “the idea that by regulating hours worked we somehow magically ensure drivers are well-rested for the next shift is completely flawed.” 

He describes that drivers need to have flexibility built into their available hours. Current regulations force drivers to compromise sleep schedules to maximize their earnings.

Drivers are paid on a per mile basis, but their capacity to earn is limited by how many hours they are able to drive. The more time drivers are delayed at docks, the less time they have to drive and earn. When shippers create delays, drivers end up pushing harder to make up for lost time.

Also (and perhaps less appreciated) is the impact of disrupted sleep caused by inconsistencies in the shipper community around loading/unloading schedules. 

The politics of this debate will play out over coming months and there will be a lot of arguments here. As an organization that believes the answer lies in data and not in political expediency, we are of the opinion that the REST Act is one where data is on Babin’s side. We get millions of ELD data points daily, which we use to answer all sorts of questions around economics, capacity, pricing, driver behavior and safety. Based on our analysis, the drivers that experience the most volatile dock loading and unloading schedules are also the most prone to incidents or accidents.

Clearly, the irregular pattern at which shippers operate has an enormous impact on driver sleep schedule. Anyone that has traveled on a multi-city business trip with flight delays can relate to how exhausting this is.

In an ironic twist, ELDs that Rep. Babin fought so passionately against will end up proving that his proposed REST bill will make the industry safer. Overhauling the HOS rules and allowing for the driver to take a break without penalty will end up encouraging drivers that need a nap the opportunity to do so. 

While ELD data can not prove Rep. Babin’s view that the ELD mandate is the “Dodd-Frank law of the trucking industry,” it can prove that driver fatigue without the opportunity for a break is a recipe for disaster. 

As with any regulation change, carriers would want to ensure that this time is not given up to shippers for their own benefit. ELDs, combined with blockchain has the potential to prevent this from happening. ELDs record dock times and with blockchain carriers can find out what average wait times and schedule are at a given stop, prior to accepting a load. They can also hold shippers accountable for having inconsistencies either in the form of detention or refusing to accept their loads to begin with.  

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  1. Danny Drew

    I think the drivers need to be able to hold the shippers accountable for more sit time than one hour, dont get me wrong the company needs to be paid as well but the damn driver is the one out there not the company owner and it should be inforced. are either the gov. needs to get involved and set a pay rate for drivers with at least 5 years of experiance $24.00 and up and hour and anything less $18.00 to $23.00 an hour and we charge any shipper are reciever that holds us more than an hour and a half a rate of $125.00 per hour and split that with the company we drive for but make the company causing the wait time pay immediately. any on on board right me in as president in 2020 and ill write an executive order put it to law.

  2. Richard F

    Mr. Oswald, can you please run for office or something. I have read a number of your posts on this site as well as a couple of others. Last one was on LinkedIn about Fatalities Increasing . Also, I believe I read one of your letters that were posted via FMCSA website. It seems so simple, yet this government just wants to complicate everything. Dot rules should not be like the tax code or the judicial system rules. You’re absolutely right, There are good drivers that are leaving the industry simply because they cannot stand the bureaucratic red-tape any longer Shippers and receivers are not being held accountable, causing the driver to sit for multiple hours in a row. I love your idea of a simple two line log, either you’re off duty or you’re on duty.

    Thank you sir for your contributions!!!

  3. Tom Oswald

    The solution is quite simple, either go back to the pre-2003 (old) rules that were in place since ’37. Stops the on-duty clock when off duty or sleeper. OR The log only needs two lines, on-duty and off-duty. 12, 13, 14hrs pick one and stick with it! 8hrs is MORE than enough time in between shifts. 10hrs is a ridiculous amount of "mandatory" sleep. The science does not support the real world trucking industry nor can you use the same rules for an industry that is this diverse. LTL is different then TL, short haul is different then regional is totally different then long haul. Build in flexibility and lets move on. These changes ever few years are getting old and you wonder why there is a driver shortage.

  4. Aaron smith

    Also this 30 min break not much of a break. Half of it is backing into a parking spot then standing in line at mcdonalds then pee then guess what before you can even eat your food dispatch is asking why the hell im not moving yet its been 31 mins!!

  5. Leon Glass

    I say get out of the industry. They count people staying in this industry taking the abuse calling it safety. If it really was about safety then 4 wheelers would be included. Rest area’s wouldn’t be closed. Laws would be in place for places like Wal Mart with huge parking lots would be mandatory for parking for big trucks. Truck stops wouldn’t be able to charge for parking. Shippers and receivers would be held accountable for ordering to many trucks they can’t load or unload. See the trucking industries has gotten to the point where instead of helping the driver who is on the road away from home,family,friends and resources they put laws and rules in place to hurt and take from the driver. Its not a good living anymore. Pay is the same as it was in the 80’s and to make up for it you did have to run harder. Now you can’t run harder and you can’t make the money either. So if you can make the money and you are going to be dogged out why do this b.s. Get out work on your plan B. Because they can’t bully people if there aren’t anyone to bully.

  6. Anonymous

    Just to be clear, I respect truck drivers for their vital services. But in this age of more and more machine involvement in industries, bills like this are doing nothing but driving you guys off the road. I hope you all make it.

  7. Anonymous

    LOL. You guys are making it HARDER for companies to use truck drivers?? And you wonder why companies are racing to replace drivers with self-driving trucks. And it looks like you did this to yourselves. Join the McDonalds workers who asked for higher wages, then got replaced by machines.

  8. Mike

    I completely disagree. As a 15 year Cdl holder, you are focusing in on a particular sector of the transportation industry. Mainly the most inefficient and lowest paid. This covers 10-15 percent of the type of drivers that also have to adhere to the 14 hour rule. Not every Cdl driver is subject to these types of schedules. Don’t blow the system away for 10 percent. I guarantee revolt will drown out any positive information you can present from eld’s as this industry is stronger than you think. Division is the only way we overcame intrastate and interstate regulations. Perhaps another class division is required to seperate these types of "higher risk" schedules and accidents. Too many companies and groups being punished by these laws. Local commerce and even local route trucks are stringently punished because of these high potential issues with long haul drivers. Train Drivers and industry, Uphold the law, make scale house funds avail to enforce better, and ban extreme repeat offenders. This will save lives.

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