Are new HoS rules a multi-billion dollar problem?

Avatar photo

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

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.”

Avatar photo

Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.


  • This is where the USA could take their cue from Canada. Canadian HOS reflect accurately the complexities of a drivers day. There is flexibility for sleep as much as there is flexibility for the complications tthat arise in a drivers day that usually are not of their own doing but rather the entities that assert themselves in the drivers schedule. Real rules for real people doing a real job. You can actually do a Toronto -Montreal turn with Canadian HOS where as under US law , you could not. Obviously geared and engineered for both the driver to make an income as well as the company. Given the vast expanses of Canada and the USA and the distances between cities, the Canadian model is superior forward thinking. NYC to Boston and back is now barely do-able or NYC to Washington. I guess the next step would be to for all US companies to purchase bunk trucks for local work since they might not get back in time…followed closely by employing more drivers and more trucks since yesterday’s drivers couldn’t make it back for the next days dispatch. And maybe thats what it’s really all about, forcing companies to invest in such a way that might make the Obama plan generate some employment numbers. It may also be a way to chase foreign trucks out of their market leaving the work exclusively for American drivers. I’ m throwing some very accurate theories out there that the American truckers already knew from the get go. so you might have guessed by now that I don’t run states side for the obvious reasons. I also don’ enjoy being pulled over for 2 miles over the limit… Another microcuasm of human manipulation in a down economy. One only needs to look at the success of the Canadian economy to understand what is functional and what is not. There is always pride at work that dictates that the solutions need to be exclusively American or exclusively Canadian…. In some cases, rather than learning from each other. Canadian solutions to transportation can be just as pathetic when ignoring the success in solutions to traffic in the USA.