With the mandatory compliance date of the new Hours of Service regulations rapidly approaching drivers and safety and compliance personnel are still looking for answers. Some are still waiting for clarification on some of the aspects of the new regulations while others are still scratching their head wondering why there was a need for a change at all when trucks are the safest they have ever been. So let’s look at some of the new regulations from a common sense and real world application instead of from a view at a desk in Washington D.C.
You can no longer drive more than 8 consecutive hours without a 30 minute break logged as either “off duty” or “sleeper berth”. This one kind of threw me off a bit especially after studies that were presented to the FMCSA and DOT provided them the data showing that the vast majority of accidents happen within the FIRST TWO hours of starting a driving shift, so with the application of the 30 minute break anywhere in the 11 hour drive time allotted each day again we sit here and ask how is it making thing safer?
Now let’s look at one of my favorite subjects, the new 34 hour restart provisions. The FMCSA and the DOT have decided that all CDL holders are robots and can simply be treated as such. Somewhere in their infinite wisdom they have decided that all drivers need two consecutive blocks of time from 1am-5am included in the total 34 hour restart or it isn’t considered compliant, of course they did this because every human being in this country has the same sleep pattern and/or requirements……..well that’s the belief in their offices anyhow, those of us that live and operate in the real world know better. This new regulation in no way assures that any driver will get better quality of rest and it actually poses a new safety problem, it will significantly increase the number of commercial vehicles returning to the roadways shortly after 5am which is just in time for the peak morning rush hour in most places.
Let’s take a jump back to what I touched on earlier about most accidents happening in the first two hours within starting a driving shift and then combine that with more drivers returning to the roads just after 5am, does anyone else see how combining those two things together can significantly increase the chances for accidents? So again we can ask, how are these new regulations in any way safer?
With the new 34 restart rule, it effectively leaves drivers with a choice, use the 34 hour restart or use a recap each week and work off from those hours because you cannot do both. So if you do away with the restart it brings us back to the old HOS regulations which they insisted on changing to begin with saying it was needed for safety. Does it seem a bit mind-boggling that they would make all of these safety related changes that don’t really appear to improve safety? The last one that I want to talk about is the fact that bus and motor coach drivers are still operating on a 10/8 hour driving/rest rule but they also get a 15 hour on duty cycle. The huge question I have here is how is it that people responsible for transporting multiple human lives are only required to get 8 hours of rest before they drive again while freight hauling drivers are required to get 10 hours. Forgive me for being blunt here folks but the insinuation screams that freight is more important than human life. Would you rather have a driver transporting your son or daughter who is better rested? Because I know I would.