Changes to the hours-of-service (HOS) rule, which were made final in December 2011, were hailed at the time by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as being beneficial to the trucking industry to the tune of $133 million a year. Now, just as the new rule changes are about to become effective this July 1, a study released last week by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), a research arm of the American Trucking Associations, says not only will the rule changes not benefit the industry, they will actually cost the industry. The ATRI projects that cost to be $189 million a year.
Put those numbers together and a $322 million discrepancy becomes glaringly apparent. How did the divergence in calculations occur? The ATRI studied two provisions of the HOS rule changes – the new limit of one 34-hour restart per week and the demand that two rest periods be taken each week between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. The ATRI says those requirements will result in the average driver losing 15 minutes a week in productivity. The institute calls that a conservative measure, too.
The ATRI says the FMCSA came up with a different number because the agency didn’t weigh several key factors that will be byproducts of the HOS changes that will affect productivity. Some of these resulting factors include lost work hours, the limiting of driver productivity, increased roadway congestion, increased restart times, and other miscellaneous costs.
As for the 34-hour restart provisions, the ATRI deduces in its report that the FMCSA based its calculation on faulty logbook data. The data the agency used was compiled from carriers who were undergoing compliance reviews and safety audits. Data from drivers who did not stick to the hours of service limits was not included and therefore skewed its calculations.