Truck Drivers Forced to Sleep More – Drive Less

What is the New Hours of Service Regulation?

In the past, truck drivers were able to drive up to 82 hours a week under the old 34-hour restart rule, with a 10-hour break every fourteen hours. The new hours of service regulation reduces the workweek to 70 hours a week, while still requiring a 10-hour break every fourteen hours. In addition to the reduced workweek, drivers are also required to take a 34-hour restart each week in order to restart their 70 hours. This restart, if taken, must happen over two consecutive nights, between the hours of 1am and 5am.

While a restart is not necessary by law, it enables a driver to ‘start over’ with their hours. If a restart is not taken, drivers can pick-up their hours from 8 days prior. But if a driver didn’t drive on the 8th day, or drove only a few hours, picking up the hours can get complicated. Many drivers choose to take the restart each week because of the complicated, and often cumbersome, process of ‘picking-up hours’.

The Pros

Drivers will drive less and sleep more. The Department of Transportation has stated that the only reason for the stricter rule is to prevent accidents from sleep-deprived truck drivers. They estimate a decrease in trucking related accidents by 1,400.

Improved driver health. Studies have shown that truck drivers suffer from sleep deprivation, which can cause a host of health issues. The Department of Transportation estimates a savings of $470 million from improved driver health.

The Cons

Increase costs and lower productivity of transporting goods. The American Trucking Association estimates a loss of between $500 million to $1.4 billion because of this new rule. Because drivers cannot drive as many hours each week, transporting goods will take longer and consumers could see an increase in prices of goods at the store. Trucking companies will be forced to hire new drivers in order to deliver time-sensitive goods, adding to the already stressed payroll issues that many companies are facing. Owner operators could see a dramatic decrease in their revenue as they are unable to complete their current deliveries due to time restraints and local drivers could see a salary cut as their workweek drivable hours are reduced.

More trucks on the road during rush hour. Most professional drivers take their sleeping breaks at times that the roads are most congested. The new restart hours will force many truck drivers to start their day during rush hour, a time that most large trucks try to stay off of the road.

While the new hours of service are in effect, there may be changes in the future. There is currently a court case to overturn the new hours of service regulations, but it remains to be seen if anything will come of it. Two previous cases have been overturned.