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Driver issuesNewsTrucking Regulation

Shippers urge feds to consider 14-hour driving rule change

Coca Cola, Home Depot among companies expecting to see benefits from FMCSA pilot project

A coalition of shippers that includes Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), The Home Depot (NYSE: HD) and Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG) is pushing regulators to roll out a split-duty pilot project to allow drivers to get more productivity out of their workday.

The Safer Hauling and Infrastructure Protection (SHIP) Coalition asserts that the “Split Duty Period Pilot Program” being considered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) – which gives drivers the option to pause the 14-hour driving window with a rest period lasting between 30 minutes and three hours – “should increase safety, allowing drivers the necessary flexibility that would benefit the general public and shippers,” SHIP Coalition Executive Director Sean Joyce told FreightWaves.

“This pilot program is a win-win. It is better for safety and allows shippers and drivers opportunities to better utilize the 14-hour period by avoiding times of congestion or more efficiently coordinate the pickup and drop-off of cargo. FMCSA should implement the proposed pilot program so data can be collected.”

The SHIP Coalition, a “joint effort of more than 80 of the nation’s most prominent manufacturers, agribusinesses and trade associations,” pointed out in formal comments submitted to FMCSA that if the pilot program is too short or involves too few drivers, any data collected that supports the split-duty rule change may be regarded as insufficient.

“The case for the split-duty period is a good one and FMCSA should not be swayed by those comments to deny it a chance to operate,” the group stated.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the independent federal agency charged by Congress to investigate significant transportation accidents, is one group that has submitted such comments. The agency, which opposed the hours-of-service (HOS) rule changes that went into effect on Sept. 29, also opposes the split-duty proposal, especially when it is considered in combination with the HOS changes that could result in extending a driver’s workday even longer than 17 hours, it stated.

“The proposed split-duty provision will increase the likelihood that drivers may be operating a vehicle up to 17 hours after coming on duty and even longer since awakening,” according to NTSB’s formal comments.

“This is concerning because driving after prolonged time awake has been associated with decrements in driving performance. Assuming the two-hour adverse driving exemption will apply to drivers involved in the proposed pilot study, this also means some drivers may be driving [trucks] on the road up to 19 hours after coming on duty. Further, allowing for a driving window that could extend as long as 17 or 19 hours will increase the likelihood that drivers will experience circadian disruption from not maintaining a 24-hour day.”

Several commenters on the proposal were also concerned that any benefits associated with pausing the 14-hour window could be undermined by carriers and shippers pressuring drivers to use the break to cover detention time.

“Under such a scenario, the agency believes that the off-duty period may not provide a meaningful opportunity for drivers to rest,” the FMCSA acknowledged in the proposal. “The pilot program is designed, among other things, to discover the extent to which ‘detention pauses’ occur and their effect on drivers, compared to pauses taken under other circumstances.”

But David Owen, president of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies, a 13,000-member group whose members average 12 power units, maintained that addressing detention time issues and mistreatment of drivers by shippers should be dealt with in carriers’ contracts.

“And while suspending the 14-hour window in connection with detention at a shipper’s facility may or may not be optimal, to assert a categorical assumption about the rest a driver gets at that time is highly questionable,” he said.

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John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.

29 Comments

  1. You smoking crack?

    14 hour window is okay but 11 hours work is too much as is.

    I have a problem for last 11 years out here driving more than 8 hours per day. And your requesting us to drive 19 hours straight. 8 hour driving is a good day

    Drivers racking in 9.5-10.5 are top drivers
    No one wants to drive 10 hours per day.

    All them people saying they need to fight the clock is really just anti GPS.

    They have thier own authority as a truck owner. Us company drivers are always being yelled at by dispatch to drive a very tight apt load and cross fingers and hope you dont get in traffic or broker will throw a fit.

  2. Just more opportunity for shippers and receivers to disrespect the drivers. Company drivers especially are at the bottom of the heap in this game.

  3. Sure, but first show me one person that can even come close to maxing out our current rules with no caffeine,nicotine, sugar, b-12, monster, or bad carbs.

  4. Lets say I have a fleet of daycabs for a specific customer that has a 3 hour load time. What are the options for that 3 hour period for me and my drivers? Can I ask them to go off duty without pay for 3 hours? Why not? If they agree when hired? Can I run them 17 hours on, 10 off, 17 on, 10 off, continually? (if they agree) .

  5. Drivers that made “adjustment’s” in their logs, to “get er done”, can no longer do that. These adjustments were often made because the HOS rules didn’t fit with the drivers NEED for sleep. If we look at the drivers daily priorities, before and after the ELD, we will see a subtle adjustment, which I believe is at the core of the crash increases. I wish I knew why the “sleeper study” was canceled. We could have gotten a lot of useful data that we could have used today. I would immediately restart this study on a very long term basis. Circadian rhythms of the OTR trucker need to be studied over at least 3 months and at least 1000 drivers. For a quick fix, I suggest immediately implementing a 96 hour rule. When an OTR driver is fresh off a reset, his circadian rhythm will be askew. Well rested and ready to “get er done”, this driver may need a nap 4 hours into his day. Before the ELD, this driver would stop, take his nap, leave his log open and hope for the best. Later, he would add that nap to his next nap,meal,fuel, and shower. This is just one of many scenarios a sleeper study could look at. When I was OTR, this was a common scenario for me(minus the adjustments). Sometimes(often), scheduling would dump me right into the gridlock of rush hour. Your sleeper study would show the best case scenario of what happens when a driver naps, rather than driving into gridlock. I believe the sleeper study was canceled because there is to many scenarios to hold water. This is where the 96 hour rule comes in. In most cases, and the way it’s supposed to work, a driver should be fresh, and ready to “get er done” after completing a reset. This “freshness” obviously deteriorates over time at different speeds, for different reasons. As this “freshness” deteriorates the risk for indecent increases. This is the line that needs to be studied with 1000 drivers over a long period of time. Now back to the quick fix. 96 hours is 4 days. A driver can make a lot of money in 4 days if he is allowed the flexibility to nap when he see’s fit. After 96 hours, normal or special rules can be implemented. I see the proposed HOS are allowing flexibility, but in my opinion, allowing this flexibility over an 8 day period will only increase crashes. It was my experience that after using split sleeper for 4 days, I started to become a shadow of myself using caffeine,sugar,nicotine, and bad carbs, to “get er done”. Because of the levels of these substances in my system, napping did nothing to gain back any “freshness”. There is no logical answer to why a trucker is basically required to use caffeine,sugar,nicotine, and bad carbs, to “get er done”. The 96 hour rule can give a driver an opportunity to get away from substances to stay awake, and simply take a nap, to gain real freshness.

  6. Why isn’t “detention pay” a mandated requirement by fmcsa? This would make the above storyline a mute point. Paying all drivers an hourly compensation for “ on-duty, not driving “ would force shippers/receivers to expedite their processes, and get us drivers off the dock sooner…

  7. It’s a good idea to halt the 14 hr rule while at a shipper. The benefits of extending the 14 would give drivers a better opportunity to drive with less aggressive traits because of having the extra time to plan better. Every driver knows how difficult it is when much needed drive time is taken away. Companies should leave their detention practices the same as to not take advantage of a regulation that benefits their drivers. If a driver needs artificial stimulants to do their job, then they shouldn’t be in this business to begin with.

  8. This is a way to do two things:

    1) delay drivers even more so the shipper/receiver may take as long as they wish

    2) provide for shippers/receivers to tell drivers they can’t stay on the property to sleep

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