HOURS OF SERVICE
49 CFR 395 sets forth the regulatory requirements for the daily and weekly limits that a commercial motor carrier may drive, better known as Hours of Service (HOS). Simply put, HOS can be explained as:
Drivers may only drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
Drivers may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
Drivers may not drive after 70 hours on duty in 8 consecutive days.
A driver may restart an 8-consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
Click here to find the Hours of Service Regulations.
While it seems like these rules are simply put and easily followed, their very restrictive nature makes it difficult for drivers to make timely deliveries. This severely impacts a driver’s earnings and costly for shippers, which ultimately drives up the price of goods and services for the end consumer.
External pressures impact a driver’s daily and weekly limits. Many of these pressures are outside of the driver’s control and include but are not limited to, weather, traffic, unloading delays, breakdowns, and much more.
As HOS relates to the ELD Mandate, will force trucking companies and their customers to improve route planning and reduce detention time at shipper customers. Every tick of the clock can be translated into miles and as a result motor carriers will be pressured to increase driver pay to compensate and to keep drivers. Quality drivers may become even harder to hire and keep on the payroll. Shippers will have to adjust their supply chains and cooperate more closely with carriers or pay higher rates.
Productivity in commercial transportation is expected to decrease and truck and driver utilization will tighten truck capacity available to shippers. An unknown number of drivers have left the industry and without some flexibility in HOS, more are expected to find work outside of the commercial transportation industry.
Where are we supposed to park tractor-trailers when going across the country? Drivers used to be able to utilize service stations, big box retailers, and even truck stops. Yes, truck stops. In this new transportation landscape that we find ourselves, drivers are finding that they have to pay, on average, $12-20 to park at a place where they have likely just spent HUNDREDS of dollars buying fuel.
Truck stops are glorifying the parking shortage by using language like “preferred parking” and “as a valued customer” and “free”. However, we all know that free never means free. Truck stops are in the business to make money and they have identified a way to make more money off of drivers as a result of the ELD Mandate. They capitalize on the fact that they know many drivers drive during the day and between the hours of 5-7pm many drivers will be running out of hours and looking for a place to park. This is a window of opportunity for them to charge an additional $12-20 to have a safe place to park while drivers take their 10 hour break. Truck stops know the rules and regulations. They know what drivers are required to do by law. Rather than provide safe and convenient places for drivers to park, they capitalize on driver’s needs to get a few extra dollars.
Overdrive magazine said it best when they said: “When you commit to one company, and spend the bulk of your fuel dollars there, it’s hard not to feel like they’re just extorting you because they can. Points on your rewards card are nice gestures, but they’re not cash money, and the physical act of having to pull out your wallet isn’t offset much by the psychological knowledge that you’ve “earned” a free shower or cup of coffee”.
Below you will find some of the major truck stops’ parking policies:
Pilot/Flying J: https://pilotflyingj.com/prime-parking/
Love’s: No parking policy
Our country needs more truck drivers, bottom line. The commercial transportation industry continually faces a driver shortage and is being hit even harder with the implementation of the ELD Mandate. This shortage had forced shippers to delay shipments and/or pay a premium to ensure that their loads get delivered on time.
Recent reports indicate that approximately 70% of all products consumed in the US are transported by a commercial vehicle. According to industry estimates, there’s currently an estimated “shortage” of 50,000 truck drivers in this country.
According to an industry analysis by DAT Solutions, just one truck was available for every 12 loads needing to be shipped at the start of 2018, which is the lowest ratio since 2005.
So, what has contributed to the driver shortage in the US?
- 2008 Recession
- Lack of qualified drivers
- ELD Mandate
- Poor public view of drivers and the professional driving industry
- Aging workforce (average age is 55 years old)
- Less than ideal lifestyle
- Perception of low wages
In the US Southwest, where much of our nation’s produce originates, companies have been forced to rely on Mexican drivers to meet the ever-growing demand. Mexican drivers are only permitted to drive from Mexico, directly to their drop/unload location, and then proceed directly back to Mexico. Until a permanent solution can be identified, the US consumer can expect to be directly impacted. Consumers will feel the effects by rising costs of consumables and all other goods and services that are dependent on the commercial transportation industry.
Below is a video that shows a story ran on the US driver shortage ran by a CBS affiliate in Arizona:
OPEN COMMENT PERIODS
Agencies get their authority to issue regulations from laws (statutes) enacted by Congress. In other words, Agencies (such as FMCSA) do not make the laws, they only write the regulations according to laws that are passed by congress. Laws give agencies the general authority to regulate certain activities within our society. Agencies must follow an open public process when they issue regulations, according to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). This includes publishing a statement of rulemaking authority in the Federal Register for all proposed and final rules. All proposed rules must be published in the Federal Register to notify the public and to give them an opportunity to submit comments. In general, agencies will specify a comment period ranging from 30 to 60 days in the “Dates” section of the Federal Register document, but the time period can vary. For complex rulemakings, agencies may provide for longer time periods, such as 180 days or more. If necessary, members of the public may request that the agency allow more time to submit comments. The comment process enables anyone to submit a comment on any part of the proposed rule. This process is not like a ballot initiative or an up‐or‐down vote in a legislature. An agency is not permitted to base its final rule on the number of comments in support of the rule over those in opposition to it. At the end of the process, the agency must base its reasoning and conclusions on the rulemaking record, consisting of the comments, scientific data, expert opinions, and facts accumulated.
Click here to learn more about the rulemaking process.
Visit www.regulations.gov and search ‘FMCSA’ to check for any open comment periods pertaining to commercial transportation regulations. You can also visit our TruckerNation’s Facebook page to find out more!
The ELD Mandate is multi-faceted issue which originated in Congress, finally being passed as a component of the MAP-21 law in 2012. TruckerNation.org has broken it down to make it a little more understandable:
- The US Constitution is the supreme law of our country was written by our Founding Fathers.
- Laws are the products of written bills, passed by either the US Congress. The Congress creates bills that, when passed by a vote in both the House and Senate, become law with the signature of the President.
- Regulations are standards and rules adopted by agencies that govern how laws will be enforced.
The ELD Mandate is a law that was passed by the U.S. Congress. However, 49 CFR 385 are the regulations that FMCSA wrote when they are given law that was written by the US Congress.
DOT/FMCSA cannot make the laws go away. DOT/FMCSA cannot change the laws. FMCSA can only issue exemptions, waivers, and provide clarifications to the regulations that they write. When we focus our energy being angry at FMCSA or pleading with them to make changes is only wasting time and effort on the wrong set of ears.
The ELD Mandate, amongst many other laws that are regulated by DOT/FMCSA can ONLY be changed, amended, or abolished with an act of Congress. Literally.
If drivers want to get involved it has to start with their State’s elected officials. Call them up, set up a meeting, send an email. Do your part. Get involved.
Click below for a list of all the elected officials in each State.
Just for fun, click here for a quick reminder of how a bill becomes a law
Not only are government regulations hard to read, they are often times hard to find. TruckerNation.org has located all of the pertinent regulations for truck drivers and linked them below:
49 CFR Subtitle B, Chapter 3 (this is ALL of the FMCSA regulations):
Below are some more specific sections:
49 CFR Part 383 - Commercial Driver’s License Standards
49 CFR Part 384 - State Compliance with Commercial Driver’s License Program
49 CFR Part 385 - Safety Fitness Procedures
49 CFR Part 392 - Driving of Commercial Motor Vehicles
49 CFR Part 393 - Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation
49 CFR Part 395 - Hours of Service
49 CFR Part 396 - Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance
49 CFR Part 397 - Transportation of Hazardous Materials; Driving and Parking Rules
49 CFR Part 399 - Employee Safety and Health Standards
If the ELD Mandate was not already difficult enough to understand, select groups have been given permanent exemptions to the Mandate. Drivers are exempt from the ELD Mandate if they meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Vehicles with engine models prior to the year 2000
- Drive-away tow-away operations
- Drivers who are not required to maintain logbooks
- Drivers who maintain a logbook for no more than 8 days in ANY 30-day period
Even these few permananet exemptions are often times difficult to understand. Below are a few points and links to further describe these limited exemptions as outlined by KeepTruckin’ and the FMCSA:
- Previously, the FMCSA said that pre-2000 vehicles would be exempt based on their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). However, now the agency has tweaked the exemption. Now, the exemption applies to vehicles with pre-2000 engines, regardless of their VIN. In other words, engines with the model year of 2000 or newer would require ELDs, despite being equipped on trucks with VINs older than 2000. Click here for further clarification given by the FMCSA.
- Short-haul drivers are not required to maintain RODS — except for days when they drive beyond the short-haul limitations set by the FMCSA. These drivers are considered local drivers. They are exempt for as long as they do not breach the short-haul limitation more than 8 days in a 30-day period. Local driver limitations are easily explained by Foley Services as the following:
The 100 air mile exemption is for CDL drivers who:
- Operate within 100 air miles
- Go off duty within 12 hours
- Report back to the same work location every day
- Have at least 10 consecutive hours off before starting their next on-duty period
The 150 air mile exemption is for non-CDL drivers who:
- Operate within 150 air miles
- Do not drive through any state that requires a CDL for the type of vehicle being driven
- Report back to the same work location every day
- Do not drive after the 14th hour of coming on duty in a period of seven consecutive days
- Do not drive after the 16th hour of coming on duty in a period of two consecutive days
So, what are local drivers exempt from?
Certain hours of service rules apply no matter what. For example, drivers are never allowed to drive more than 11 hours, nor are they allowed to drive after having been on duty for 14 hours.
Although drivers are not required to maintain a detailed log of their duty status, they are required to record their on-duty time.
Drivers who qualify for these exemptions must maintain a record of:
- The time they go on duty
- The total number of hours they are on duty
- The time they go off duty
Finally, FMCSA has granted many limited and/or short-term exemptions to specific industries who engage in commercial transportation. A list of exemptions granted can be found here . Drivers who are interested in exemptions should check this list frequently as new exemptions are being added all the time.
Exemption requests are announced in the Federal Register. Click here for a complete list of Federal Register Notices that have been issued. Drivers who are interested in exemption requests that are announced in the Federal Register should check this list frequently as new exemption requests are being added all the time.
Would you take the time to file an exemption request for yourself, your company or your industry if there was a mechanism to do so? Well, lucky for you, there is! In 49 CFR 381, the FMCSA outlines exactly how to request an exemption to ANY of their regulations… all you have to do is take the time, follow their format and ask. It is important to note that this is not a 30 second task and will take a little bit of time.
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