More updates to HoS coming say ELD analysts

TORONTO, Ont. – Geotab trucking experts say more changes to Hours of Service (HoS) regulations in the United States are coming.

“The only thing we can tell you with any certainty is that it will change and it is changing,” said Geotab associate VP, commercial vehicle solutions Scott Sutarik.

Sutarik and Vik Sridhar, solutions engineering manager, ELD gave an update to a packed room at the Geotab 2018 Connect conference about changes being implemented by and suggested to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in the wake of mandatory electronic logging device (ELDs) coming into effect last December.

Sridhar said the ELD regulation have exposed flaws in the HoS rules, which he calls a one-size-fits-all solution that doesn’t fit everyone.

Paper logs were in 15-minute increments and allowed some perceived flexibility for drivers – even if the FMCSA has said there was never any actually flexibility in the rules – but ELDs measure a truck’s movements second-by-second once they reach a speed of eight kilometers per hour, creating problems for drivers stuck looking for parking beyond their designated hours, or those forced to conduct yard moves while mid-rest period.

Recently the FMCSA clarified regulations to allow for a wider use of personal conveyance for those reasons, in addition to allowing agricultural haulers to be exempt from HoS rules while within 150 air-miles of the source of the pick-up, as long as the product being hauled is in its original form.

Now that the rules for agricultural haulers has been solidified, they should expect a previous exemption not to be renewed on its expiry this month.

These are just examples of what Sridhar sees as a coming trend for the regulations.

“I only see that there is going to be more and more… this isn’t going away,” he said. “It’s time to update the definition of personal conveyance.”

Personal conveyance can now be used not only to look for parking, but for yard moves that may be required in the middle of the night. When drivers and fleets are trying to decide what constitutes personal conveyance, they should consider whether the action will contribute to advancing the load. If it’s not advancing the load, then it might fall within an acceptable exemption.

With lobbyists working in Washington to keep Geotab in the loop on more possible changes, part of the conference update included talking about their efforts to work with politicians to create HoS rules that better fit the industry environment.

The FMCSA is working to address petitions filed by groups like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), as well as looking at possible solutions like a pilot project to test split break periods.

“We anticipate that 14-hour rule is going to be changed sometimes in the future.”

The activity south of the border is being closely watched by those in the Canadian industry who are preparing for an ELD mandate that is expected to come into effect here before 2020, and possibly as early as 2019.

Sutarik expects the regulations in Canada to look close to those in the U.S. saying the two countries are pretty well aligned on the issue.

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