Heightened by the ongoing debate over ELDs, the Department of Transportation has announced that it is considering changes to hours-of-service regulations that some feel are too strict.

On August 23, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that it will be seeking public comment on four key areas of its standing hours-of-service regulations. Currently, those regulations control how long commercial truck drivers can operate their vehicles before mandated stops — something that has wide-ranging implications for carriers, shippers, and consumers alike.

In targeting four specific types of regulations, FMCSA said on its website that it was seeking outside opinion on the following areas:

  • “Expanding the current 100 air-mile ‘short-haul’ exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty, in order to be consistent with the rules for long-haul truck drivers;
  • Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions;
  • Revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after 8-hours of continuous driving; and
  • Reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks that are equipped with a sleeper-berth compartment.”

FMCSA explained that its Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) “responds to widespread Congressional, industry, and citizen concerns and seeks feedback from the public to determine if HOS revisions may alleviate unnecessary burdens placed on drivers while maintaining safety on our nation’s highways and roads.”

What This Means for Shippers

Regulations dealing with hours-of-service requirements — especially related to electronic logging devices (ELDs) — have stoked spirited debate within the shipping and logistics space. While some industry professionals feel that these regulations are necessary to keep roads safe for other vehicles as well as their own drivers, others contend that government protocol has become burdensome and made it more difficult to compete.

If hours-of-service regulations are changed in the way FMCSA is proposing, drivers may have the added flexibility they say they need to complete hauls on industry-standard timelines. For example, if a driver gets delayed because of traffic caused by inclement weather, updated regulations would grant extra time on top of the current on-duty limitation. Or, if a driver has a sleeper-berth compartment, they would have the option of breaking up the required 10-hour off-duty break, a move which could give them more control over where and when they need to stop driving.

For shippers, revisions to hours-of-service regulations have wide-ranging implications. After all, if drivers are traveling less per day, they’ll need more time to complete trips. This drives up operating costs for businesses and has the potential to drive up costs for consumers as well. For some, revisions to FMCSA rules would cut down on overhead and allow them to control costs before they need to get baked into customer pricing.

How Demand-Driven Logistics Providers Can Help

While the top concern in this debate should be the safety of motorists — both commercial and private — FMCSA’s announcement may give supply chain managers some breathing room in the current trucking capacity crisis. For shippers who have been struggling to navigate the shipping and logistics landscape at such a volatile time, understanding these regulations, even if they change, is a must when it comes to controlling costs and driving long-term value.

By partnering with a third-party logistics (3PL) partner or integrated logistics services provider (ISP), small and mid-sized shippers can count on experienced industry professionals to help them make the most of every mode of freight transportation. Whether new hours-of-service regulations make trucking the best option for your business or whether intermodal solutions are right for you, tried-and-tested 3PLs and ISPs will be able to help.

With more than twenty years of experience in shipping and logistics, Primary Freight has the expertise businesses need to scale. From targeted logistics solutions to specific needs to complete overhauls of your shipping operation, our award-winning team of supply chain professionals is here to assist.

To learn more about Primary Freight’s award-winning shipping and logistics services, call us today at (800)-635-0013.