WASHINGTON, D.C. – Just how much are the new hours-of-service rules implemented in the US last summer hurting the trucking industry?
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently released results from an analysis that found more than 80% of motor carriers surveyed have suffered productivity losses since the rules went into effect. Nearly half of them said they will require more drivers to haul the same amount of freight.
Among commercial drivers surveyed, 82.5% said the new HoS have had a negative impact on their quality of life, with more than 66% reporting increased levels of fatigue.
Commercial drivers also said the new rules force them to drive during more congested periods. The majority of drivers, 67%, also reported a decline in their earnings since the new rules were implemented.
ATRI found the impacts on driver wages for all over-the-road drivers would be $1.6-$3.9 billion in losses.
The analysis was based on survey data from more than 2,300 commercial drivers and 400 motor carriers as well as a detailed analysis of logbook data, representing more than 40,000 commercial drivers.
“We anticipated significant impacts on our operations and across the entire supply chain from the new rules and our experience since July 1 is bearing that out,” commented Kevin Burch, president of Jet Express. “ATRI’s analysis clearly documents the productivity impacts and real financial costs being borne by carriers and drivers. It’s only a matter of time before these impacts ripple throughout the nation’s economy.”
The full report is available at www.atri-online.org.
ATRI’s findings have been supported by an independent survey of more than 4,000 truck drivers in the US, conducted by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA).
The organization surveyed its membership and found drivers reported: increased fatigue and stress; less income and home time; more time driving in general; and more time spent in congested traffic.
The new rules implemented July 1, according to OOIDA, reduce flexibility in a driver’s workweek.
“The agency’s insistence on micromanaging a driver’s time is actually undermining highway safety,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice-president. “Instead of providing the flexibility to drive when rested and stop when tired, the new rules have put drivers in the position of driving more hours than ever and in the worst traffic conditions, and spending less time at home. How is that safe?”
Of the 4,000 survey respondents, 46% reported feeling more fatigued since the changes were implemented, and 65% reported earning less income. The restriction to one 34-hour restart per week caused 56% of respondents to lose mileage and loads hauled per week, OOIDA says. Many respondents wrote they experience less time and home and increased stress under the new rules.
In some cases, drivers with long wait periods between loads were unable to use the restart because the 34 hours did not cover two periods from 1-5 a.m., or 168 hours had not elapsed since the previous restart. Drivers are getting less home time or accepting shorter hauls for less money, the survey found.
“The problem with time management is not new to truckers,” said Spencer. “And it isn’t new to the agency either because, over and over, drivers expressed at many FMCSA listening sessions that they have little or no control over their time, particularly because of the unpredictability of the job and due to shippers and receivers keeping them waiting to load or unload.”
“The rules need to reflect the fact that drivers have to accommodate numerous factors they have no control over such as weather and traffic, in addition to the schedules of shippers and receivers who don’t have to comply with any regulations at all,” Spencer added. “Truckers shouldn’t be expected to navigate the conflicting worlds of regulations versus reality and still operate safely and efficiently.”
In a Nov. 21 hearing, a US House of Representatives’ Committee on Small Business heard these complaints and others.
Among presenters was Duane Long, chairman of Raleigh, N.C.-based Longistics, who told the committee that the industry is suffering serious negative impacts as a result of the restrictions.
“Simply put, the July 1 hours-of-service rule changes were unnecessary; the regulations adopted in 2003 were working and the administration offered rhetoric but little data to explain why they needed to be changed,” said Long. “Unfortunately, the gap between the administration’s rhetoric and the trucking industry’s operating reality is very wide. These changes are having a very real, and very negative impact on hundreds of thousands of drivers and motor carriers.”
Long said the rules are particularly disruptive for team drivers, who “resent the new restart restrictions and the effect they are having on their ability to make a living.”
OOIDA was also at the hearing. Senior member Tilden Curl of Olympia, Wash. provided his account on how the rules are affecting operators. He complained off more restrictive, arbitrary changes that don’t provide any safety benefit while having a negative impact on driver wages.
“Less flexibility makes it more difficult to stop for rest, avoid traffic, or keep a schedule after being delayed by a shipper or receiver,” said Curl in his oral testimony at the hearing.
“Most of the challenges within this industry find their root cause in demands from shippers and receivers who are not subject to the same regulatory restrictions and economic consequences as truckers,” Curl added. “We must stop placing more rigid requirements on the driver, while allowing carriers and customers to make demands beyond the allowance of regulations and safety.”
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