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We Ask Drivers How They Would Make The Logbook Rules Better

Patrick Netzel on Tue, May 30, 2017
how would you change the DOT HOS logbook rules

Recently, we had a discussion with experienced drivers on what changes they would make to the hours-of-service rules that all interstate CDL license holders are bound by.

Not surprisingly, the biggest bone of contention for drivers is the universally-despised "14-hour rule", which requires that your entire "on-duty" shift starts when your day starts, and ends 14 hours later.

Drivers are allowed a maximum 11 hours driving, followed by a mandatory period of 10 consecutive hours "off-duty". On-duty maximums are 60 hours in 7 days and 70 hours in 8.

The Hours-Of-Service Problem

In most driver's eyes, the new hours-of-service rules complicated a simple process unnecessarily, taking flexibility away from good drivers and putting everybody into the same "one-size-fits-all" box.

Among the loudest complaints about the unceasing ticking of the 14-hour clock is the inability to take naps when needed, under the time constraints of the load.

Not only does it seemingly ignore the way that the trucking industry as a whole operates, but also how the human mind and body work. Not to mention weather and traffic.

"The only people that can make any sense out of that are so-called "sleep experts", who claim we need 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every single day.

But I almost never get 8 straight hours of sleep. Usually I get 4 or 5, maybe 6 sometimes, and then a nap sometime during the day. And none of us are that consistent.

We all have strong days where we feel great all day long, and slower days where we need more rest or some breaks along the way.

There's nothing in the rules to accommodate any of that."

~ Brett Aquila, Owner,

Source: Forum

Add to this the 8/2 sleeper provision, which allows drivers to pause their 14-hour clock by spending 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth.

After 8 hours in the sleeper berth, it only allows them to drive whatever hours they had left when they entered the sleeper.

It still lacks the flexibility that would benefit many drivers, for the same reasons.

Formerly, HOS rules gave drivers more flexibility to drive when it made sense to drive, and sleep when it made sense to sleep.

It also allowed them to account for delays at customers, or due to unforeseen traffic and weather conditions.

"Years ago the logbook rules were much better, in my opinion, than they are today. Basically:

  • You could drive up to 10 hours before requiring an 8 hour break.
  • You could split your sleeper berth and driving time into two segments, as long as each segment in the sleeper berth was a minimum of 2 hours.
  • The 70 hour rule was the same as it is today. You can be on duty up to 70 hours every 8 days.

The 14 hour rule did not exist, the 30 minute break was not required, and the 34 hour reset did not exist.

You could still drive about the same number of miles back then as you can today, but the split sleeper berth rule and the lack of a 14 hour rule gave you far more flexibility than you have today."

~ Brett Aquila, Owner,

Source: Forum

So What Should Be Changed?

Naturally, most of the replies in the discussion would eliminate or amend the 14-hour rule.

Many would prefer either going back to the old 10 hours on, 8 hours off, or let you stop the clock with more lenient sleeper berth rules.

In practice, the 14-hour rule actually penalizes drivers who stop to take a 2 or 3 hour nap, forcing them to sleep at customers.

It sometimes forces them to stop "anywhere they can", rather than the safety of a rest area or truck stop.

Many drivers, like Brett, would roll them back altogether to the simpler rules from years back.

G-Town, a Swift driver in a dedicated fleet for Walmart, finds himself in a more unique situation than many of our other members:

Eliminate or modify the 14 hour rule.

At the very least, it should stop running when logged "off-duty", especially for the 30 minute break.

Most of the clock challenges I deal with are a result of the "14" not meshing well with the type of work involved with Walmart dedicated.

Live unloads that must be observed by the driver (at a minimum) burn up to 5 hours per day with a 5-6 stop run or even more if a second load is dispatched during the work day.

It's common for me to drive 7-8 hours during the work day and return empty to the DC with minutes remaining on the "14" hour clock.

~ G-Town, Professional Truck Driver.

Source: Forum

Brett responds:

Well in my opinion the 14 hour rule doesn't mesh with anything.

I mean, do you like cramming all of your work into a straight 14 hour period without the flexibility to take naps if you need them, or wait it out for a few hours at the docks when customers are slow?

Does the human mind and body function well like that?

Does the shipping industry function like that?

Does traffic or weather function like that?

The only people that can make any sense out of that are so-called "sleep experts", who claim we need 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every single day.

But I almost never get 8 straight hours of sleep.

Usually I get 4 or 5, maybe 6 sometimes, and then a nap sometime during the day. And none of us are that consistent.

We all have strong days where we feel great all day long, and slower days where we need more rest or some breaks along the way. There's nothing in the rules to accommodate any of that.

~ Brett Aquila, Owner,

Source: Forum

Tanker delivery driver, and TruckingTruth legend, Daniel B. takes a different approach:

I would switch it back to exactly as you described but add the 34 hour reset. However, I don't think they would ever do that because it would only make sense - cant have that.

So I would:

Increase the 14 hour clock into a 16 hour clock to accommodate some of the issues described above.

Increase the 11 hour clock to a 12 hour clock to allow for more drive time.

8 hour break remains.

34 hour reset remains.

As a result of the 14 hour clock increasing by 2 hours, I would completely remove the Split Sleeper Berth provision.

Add an additional duty status called Off-Duty Break abbreviated as ODB. ODB will pause the 16 hour clock for up to 4 hours, after the 4th hour the 16 hour clock will resume and behave like the current 14 hour clock.

ODB is a duty status strictly for sleeping periods when the driver is too fatigued to safely continue driving. If used in any other way, it is an HoS violation.

~ Daniel B., Professional Truck Driver

Source: Forum

I like Dan's suggestion.

And if all that is too hard. There has to be an option to pause the 14. And not just the 2 hr exemption for unforeseen weather events.

Best example I have for this is a pick up I had in Buffalo. Nearest real truck stop is in PA about an hour away.

I get to the customer and find out min 7 hour delay. Bam. I'm trapped, weather I go find a place to park or stay there my entire day is shot.

By the time I'm loaded I'll have 2 hours to find somewhere else to park.

~ MC1371, Professional Truck Driver.

Source: Forum

One glaring issue with the current restrictive hours-of-service rules is it's "one-size-fits-all" approach to the realities of the industry, in general.

Different sets of duties, responsibilities, and driving styles define the different types of driver.

Whether they drive over-the-road, dedicated, or regional, they are all put in the same regulatory box:

Prospective driver millionmiler24 wrote:

"Totally OBLITERATE the 14 hour rule. Have 12 hours on duty each day and 12 hours combined off duty/sleeper berth. The only things you log on duty not driving would be pre-trip, fueling, and post trip.

As soon as you arrive at a shipper or receiver, switch to off duty and send in an arrival macro to your dispatcher to let them know you aren't just loafing around.

Anytime you stop for a break and you switch to off duty/sleeper berth, it STOPS your 12 hour clock and doesn't affect it until you have 12 hours off duty or sleeper berth.

Then it will reset back to 12 or whatever you have left on your 60, whatever is less.

When you hit 60 hours each week, do a 48 hour uninterrupted reset.

In other words have the weekends off or something that resembles a weekend off, two days off in a row. Also any hours logged above 40 each week should be paid at time and a half.

In other words whatever your cpm rate is, add half of that to your current cpm rate and any on duty time logged after that should be paid at the higher rate."

~ millionmiler24, Prospective Truck Driver

Source: Forum

G-Town responds:

That's okay for OTR work, but on many Dedicated assignments (specifically retail store delivery), reduces the amount of work that can be accomplished in a day. I cannot log off-duty when I deliver to Walmart.

The live-unload requires the driver to be attentive to the operation and at times for a perishable reefer load, supervise what comes off and what goes back on.

Many times 12 hours isn't enough time to complete a 6-stop load, the type that earns the highest pay.

I still believe Daniel's suggestion can satisfy the needs of most Interstate drivers; OTR, Regional and/or Dedicated.

~ G-Town, Professional Truck Driver

Source: Forum

Driver Isaac H. takes that further with a perfect baseball analogy:

And that is exactly correct G-Town. There are the OTR drivers that just drive, drive, drive drop and hook, and there are OTR drivers that deliver, deliver, drive a little and deliver. And everything in between.

How are you going to come up with one set of rules for everybody?

Are you going to tell every pitcher in baseball that they are required to pitch 5 innings? The starters would be like "Yeah! Only 5 innings" and the closers are going to be like "5 innings is too much! "

Isaac H., Professional Truck Driver

Source: Forum

New FMCSA Sleeper-Berth Study

More recently, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s associate administrator for research and information technology Kelly Regal, updated attendees at the Managing Fatigue international conference in San Diego, CA, on an FMCSA "Flexible sleeper berth pilot program", which she hopes will start collecting data in late 2017.

The study, actually announced in January, 2016, is still awaiting clearance from the White House Office of Management and Budget on it's methodology and approach.

It will study 200 truck drivers under various sleep schedules, providing a sleeper-berth exemption that will allow them to use 3/7, 4/6, and 5/5-hour splits of their required 10-hour off-duty time.

“We know a lot of drivers do choose daytime sleep,” Honn said, proven to be much less adequate for cognitive function/fatigue levels than split sleep in a prior study conducted by her university. “But if they can get some of their sleep during the nighttime hours it may be beneficial for them – as good as or better than consolidated daytime sleep.”

~ Kimberly Honn, Washington State University principal researcher at the Sleep and Performance Research Center

Overdrive: Fixing the 14-hour rule: FMCSA moving closer to flexible sleeper-split pilot program

"I have been following the e-log discussion for the last 10 years. I never see where anyone with any truck sense interjects the issue of the 14-hour rule, which when combined with the e-log issue might possibly throw this country into another recession. It is possible that no one but a truck driver really understands the 14-hour rule and the insane change it brought to the industry. Let me share with you the view from an old man that has spent a lifetime in the trucking business.

When the 14-hour rule was imposed on the trucking business it totally destroyed the possibility that safety could be achieved through the hours of service. Can you imagine how anyone could come up with such a plan: if you penalize an experienced truck driver for taking a nap, it will make him safer?

Rather, you need to encourage any driver to take a nap if he feels he needs one. No matter what number of hours he has driven, if he feel he needs a nap, by all means take one. That nap, regardless of length, should not subtract or distract from his opportunity to make a living. The mere idea that you can eliminate that need for a nap with dictation of sleep/off-duty patterns is ridiculous.

I challenge you or any esteemed member of our government or its regulators to show me where allowing a driver to take a nap endangers him or others. Be a realist. Explain that the day that the 14-hour rule went into effect, it made a liar out of all those that were trying their damnedest to comply with the previous hours of service. For those that want very little help from others, at least allow a driver to determine his own point of fatigue and need for rest."

~ Gary Carlisle, Owner-Operator, Midland, Texas

Source: Overdrive

It's clear that there need to be some limits to how many hours per day drivers can put in behind the wheel. A growing body of research shows that increasing the hours worked actually decreases productivity. In the case of truck drivers in charge of an 80,000-pound vehicle, driver fatigue is a major concern. And, honestly, give some people an inch, and they'll take a mile. Or 500.

"Long hours typify certain jobs and research has documented untoward consequences of long hours in these occupations. In a study of hospital staff nurses, shifts longer than 12 hours and working weeks longer than 40 hours were associated with significantly heightened probabilities of error that have raised questions about patient safety. In another study, medical interns were significantly more likely to be involved in motor vehicle crashes if they had just worked extended shifts. Forty-two similar reports have been made about airline pilots, police officers, truck drivers, and soldiers. "

~ John Pencavel, Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR)

Source: "The Productivity of Working Hours"

Beyond that, many health issues can be directly attributed to the stress and long hours that drivers face. Despite not normally being a "regular job" in terms of scheduling and hours, the leeway to listen to one's own body is hard to find under the current regulations.

Obviously, successful drivers eventually learn how to manage their clock within the rules, and be highly productive in spite of them. But given the forced 14-hour day, the people trying to do the job are the ones that the FMCSA would be wise to heed. Whether the FMCSA actually listens to drivers when they call for comments on pending rules is probably up for debate.

Sources: Forum - Logbook Rules: How Would You Make Them Better?

Overdrive - Fixing the 14-hour rule: FMCSA moving closer to flexible sleeper-split pilot program

FMCSA Hours-Of-Service Regulations

Overdrive - Return safety to drivers’ control: Fix the 14-hour rule

The Productivity of Working Hours, John Penceval

Tagged Under:

Driver Responsibilities FMCSA Hours Of Service Logbook Questions Safe Driving Tips Trucking Industry Concerns Trucking News Understanding The Laws

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