GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The new hours-of-service rules implemented in the US July 1 have reduced solo driver productivity by 3.1%, and team operations by 4.3%, according to data compiled by Schneider National.
The results reflect estimates the company made before the changes were implemented.
“The hours-of-service changes could not have come at a worse time,” said Dave Geyer, senior vice-president/general manager of Schneider’s van truckload division. “We now need more drivers to do the same amount of work, but regulations, economic conditions and demographics are working against us in terms of recruiting new drivers. Those who do answer the call deserve an attractive wage and good benefits, but we’re being restricted in the number of miles we can give them and the ongoing challenges that come with sharply rising operating costs.”
Geyer pointed out that safety has not been compromised by the new rules.
“Operating safely continues to be core to how we do business,” added Geyer. “Safety performance dramatically improved under the previous hours-of-service rules and there is no evidence to support that changing the rules has improved safety. Ongoing feedback from our drivers is consistent: they do not feel better rested as a result of the rules change; just less productive.”
The new rules come as fleets continue to struggle with rising driver turnover.
Citing a recent research brief, John Larkin, managing director of Stifel Transportation & Logistics Research Group, said regulations such as HOS create a challenging driver market. “Virtually all of the proposed federal rules and regulations either reduce the size of the driver pool or reduce the productivity of the drivers remaining in the pool,” he noted. “As a result, drivers remain a scarce input.”
Carriers and drivers aren’t the only ones adjusting to the changes; shippers are feeling the impact, too. Many shippers are indicating carriers across the industry – as well as their own private fleets – are already experiencing productivity and on-time service declines.
“To put it in the simplest of terms, capacity continues to tighten, productivity has been reduced and it’s harder – and more costly – than ever to acquire and retain drivers,” Geyer explained. “This trifecta is a cost burden that carriers cannot bear alone.”