HOS 34-hour restart provision is far from popular
November 04, 2013 - LM Editorial
There has been no shortage of feedback from shippers and carriers regarding the new changes to the motor carrier hours-of-service regulations that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued in July.
In short, the feedback goes something like this: we don’t like these changes and never wanted or asked for them in the first place.
The most commonly talked-about HOS change is definitely the 34-hour restart rule. As per the FMCSA, the new restart policy aimed to change provisions in the 34-hour restart, which allowed drivers to “reset” their workweek after 34 consecutive hours off duty. Under new rules, drivers are now able to reset their workweek only once every seven days—and the rest period includes two spans from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
U.S. Xpress Enterprises Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing John White told LM in a previous interview that “the real challenge is the restart is 34 hours and could be as much as 49 or 50 hours, depending on when a driver finishes his day and if freight is available. Another issue is if the driver has worked his seven days and now cannot start his 34-hour restart until 1 a.m.”
LM reported last week that bipartisan legislation introduced by a trio of Congressmen—Reps. Richard Hanna (D-NY), Tom Rice (R-SC) and Michael Michaud (D-Maine) aims to halt the 34-hour restart provision.
As you can tell, again, this 34-hour restart rule, along with the other changes, are not gaining in popularity whatsoever within freight transportation circles.
“The 34 hour restart [rule] is a drain on both the carrier community and the shipper one, ultimately, resulting in impacts to the end consumer,” said Jeff Brady, director of transportation for Harry & David, a multi-channel specialty retailer and producer of branded premium gift-quality fruit, gourmet food products and other gifts. “Trucking impacts the entire economy and with the last several decades of no cohesive highway infrastructure plans; the increases in congestion, at critical times of the day none the less, is impacting capacity. Capacity in trucking, or lack thereof, creates higher costs to get capacity commitments from an ever shrinking carrier base.”
As you can tell, Brady was straightforward and direct in assessing the current landscape and the negative influence these new regulations are clearly having in a relatively brief span.
These rules are impacting all modes, he continued, but for Harry & David, where reefer capacity has already been stuck in contraction mode, due to things like diesel fuel increases since the 2008 run up and the impacts on drivers being asked to do more, with less, with more Federal rules and capital needed to operate small – medium carrier fleets, among other things, he said it creates “disastrous pockets of service failures, cost over-runs and on time performance issues”
within the supply chain.
“We simply need to halt these regulations and realistically revisit them and understand the economic impact as a country,” he concluded.
While I would suggest it is hard for most anyone to disagree with Brady on these points, it seems like it will be a while before the 34-hour restart issue gets addressed in a truly meaningful way.
So, for now, shippers and carriers remain focused on playing with the cards they are dealt while doing what they can to keep operating costs in check and keeping a close eye on capacity. This rule affects everyone running trucking operations, especially on the truckload side, so it bears close attention in the future.
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