Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hours of Service: Bane or Boon?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a new Hours-of-Service (HOS) rule on December 22, 2011. This may make the American roads safer, may make carriers more profitable by adjusting the demand-supply equation in their favor, and may enhance the quality of life for the American workers in the logistics industry. Or it may make the retail supply-chains more inefficient and more expensive to operate and everything just a little more expensive. As always change is hard to adopt and there is some truth on both sides of the argument.

The effective date of the new rules is February 27, 2012, and the compliance date of selected provisions is July 1, 2013. Here is a summary of the new rules, reproduced here from the FMCSA website:

HOURS-OF-SERVICE RULES

Property-Carrying CMV Drivers

Passenger-Carrying CMV Drivers

11-Hour Driving Limit
May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.

10-Hour Driving Limit
May drive a maximum of 10 hours after 8 consecutive hours off duty.

14-Hour Limit
May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.

15-Hour On-Duty Limit
May not drive after having been on duty for 15 hours, following 8 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time is not included in the 15-hour period.

60/70-Hour On-Duty Limit
May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

60/70-Hour On-Duty Limit
May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.

Sleeper Berth Provision
Drivers using the sleeper berth provision must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.

Sleeper Berth Provision
Drivers using a sleeper berth must take at least 8 hours in the sleeper berth, and may split the sleeper-berth time into two periods provided neither is less than 2 hours.

Here is how some of the provisions compare with the existing rules:

PROVISION

CURRENT RULE

FINAL RULE – COMPLIANCE DATE JULY 1, 2013

Limitations on minimum "34-hour restarts"

None

(1) Must include two periods between 1 a.m.- 5 a.m. home terminal time.
(2) May only be used once per week.

Rest breaks

None except as limited by other rule provisions

May drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver's last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes.

On-duty time

Includes any time in CMV except sleeper-berth.

Does not include any time resting in a parked CMV. In a moving property-carrying CMV, does not include up to 2 hours in passenger seat immediately before or after 8 consecutive hours in sleeper-berth. Also applies to passenger-carrying drivers.

Penalties

"Egregious" hours of service violations not specifically defined.

Driving (or allowing a driver to drive) 3 or more hours beyond the driving-time limit may be considered an egregious violation and subject to the maximum civil penalties. Also applies to passenger-carrying drivers.

Irrespective of the arguments on both sides of the story, one thing is for certain: The rules are more cumbersome and keeping an accurate log of all drivers and their schedules for most carriers will require some level of automation. That is good news for the shipment-management solution vendors who provide such functionality and can accommodate the FMCSA constraints in creating the schedules in the first place and adjusting them as they are executed in the field.

Of course, there is more to optimizing your transportation needs. If you are thinking in terms of these solutions, review your extended shipping needs because some best-of-breed solutions for shipping industry may provide you much more than simply the driver scheduling and logging. 

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Want to know more about supply chain processes and supply chain strategy? Check out my books on Supply Chain Management at Amazon.

© Vivek Sehgal, 2011, All Rights Reserved.

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