Assumptions wrong on HOS changes, driver phone use?

By Kevin Jones on

Recent studies suggest that the conventional wisdom could be wrong about a couple of items that are very important to trucking: the impact of changes to the hours-of-service rules and the risks of using a cell phone while driving.

The constraints imposed on trucking by HOS changes can be overcome with a little math, according to a new study.

The constraints imposed on trucking by HOS changes can be overcome with a little math, according to a new study.

Regarding the former, Asvin Goel, professor of International Logistics at Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany, says FMCSA’s 2010 regulatory impact analysis (RIA) had “several shortcomings” in its evaluation of the proposed changes to HOS—something many in trucking screamed about at the time.

Except the new research, “Hours of Service Regulations in the United States and the 2013 Rule Change,” makes the case that FMCSA overestimated the costs of stricter regulations and underestimated the safety benefits.

The changes, according to the scholar, could prove more beneficial than advertised by FMCSA. Indeed, with this new math, the case could be made that the reductions in driving time did not go far enough.

There’s a catch, of course: Trucking needs to adapt to the new rules. Perfectly.

“By optimizing plans and schedules, transport companies can avoid additional costs even if stricter regulations are imposed,” the study says. “To the best of our knowledge, the capability of carriers to use optimization as a tool to minimize the economic impact of stricter regulations has not been considered in any regulatory impact assessment published so far.”

(And I’m sure there are plenty of well-established optimization vendors out there wondering: What are we, chopped liver?)

If you want to put a positive spin on the research, it’s an academic way of saying trucking companies are a lot smarter than FMCSA gives them credit for. (As another aside, my colleague Dave Cullen beat me to the punch: I really wanted to claim to be the first trucking journalist to use “metaheuristics” this week.)

On the other hand, if FMCSA starts to model for a frictionless transportation environment, RIAs then become completely meaningless and the regulatory possibilities are limitless. An 8-hour driver day? Don’t worry, truckers—you’ll make it work!

That’s what the researcher says: “Considering these findings, the FMCSA may come to a different conclusion when reconsidering whether the daily driving time limit should be reduced or not.”

I happened to be talking with transportation economist Noël Perry about an upcoming story on the driver shortage, and he certainly expects the marketplace to adjust to HOS and reduce its impact—eventually.  But the FMCSA study was “laughably off” in underestimating the magnitude of the loss caused by the HOS changes, Perry confirms.

And, for the same story, Maverick USA CEO Steve Williams puts it more plainly: “Hours of service won’t make a bit of difference until people are compliant.”

 

In another study, researchers’ observations cast doubt on the assumption that using a cell phone while driving causes crashes, according to a post on ScienceBlog.

“Using a cellphone while driving may be distracting, but it does not lead to higher crash risk in the setting we examined,” said Saurabh Bhargava, assistant professor of social and decision sciences in Carnegie Mellon’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “While our findings may strike many as counterintuitive, our results are precise enough to statistically call into question the effects typically found in the academic literature.”

Similarly, there’s no evidence that laws prohibiting cell phone use by drivers have had an impact on safety.

For a counter-argument, AT&T has recently sponsored a powerful 35-minute documentary by director Werner Herzog about the human toll of texting while driving.

What might this mean for trucking? You tell me—just don’t call or add a comment from the behind the wheel.

Kevin Jones

Kevin Jones is Senior Editor, Trucking Media, and writes from his home in Little Rock, Ark. His Fleet Street blog features whatever strikes his fancy and has at least a little connection to trucks, or drivers, or highways. Or David Allan Coe. (Google "the perfect country and western song" if you're not nearly as old as Kevin is.) You can also keep up with Kevin by following his Twitter feed (@KevinJonesCCJ) or just drop him a line: kevin.jones@randallreilly.com.

25 comments
guest 2222
guest 2222

There comes a point when you get up in the morning and the hot cakes are too round and it is time to move on( in other words you think you are the only thing that makes the company work or the boss thinks he owns you. ) So we know the cell phone as far as talking was not a problem but perhaps it needed to be so a lobbyist could get it where whoever sells the ear pieces could sell a ton of them. Sorry I am one who follows the money for answers when something makes no sense. Bad part is I  do not call accidents in nor what appears to be a drunk driver as that would be against the law. Pull over well a lot of places that is against the law or there is no room and that 14 hour clock keeps ticking .

The hours of service were fine before they decided to change them every chance they got. Every driver has different  needs in the sleep department  as every load . There are days I feel great and just want to run and days I can not find the energy but one has to make a living which in this industry has gotten to be a meager one  guess only bright spot in that is  less taxes to pay. But  that is alright as they are replacing each and everyone of us with people who do not see through them.

Please tell me you do not see what I see every c store is ran by someone who does not speak English as the hotels motels  restaurants and now your starting to see it in management in the large truck stops.

We run team had dinner and I saw no reason for both of us walking .to the back of the lot to get the truck to come up and get fuel so I waited. Low and behold here comes a driver and he says to me Oh I am glad to see you . I look  at him  in a questioning way. He turns back looking at about ten trucks lined up fueling and says to me there is not one person out there that speaks English.  

If I rambled or got to far off topic I am sorry.

Gordon A
Gordon A

Ok  I run team. We had a load that was very important and had to be delivered asap. Millions of dollars are hanging on on time delivery. Receiver asks if we can be there at 0400 west coast time?. We loaded at 0900 central time. NO we cannot. Why?? Because of the new regulations and that stupid 30 minute break.  So it was explained to him. That is one hour for a team to do absolutely nothing productive. Then stopping for fuel and possible  traffic back ups and of course the predicted storms in route. Be there 0800 West coast time.  Got there at 0700 west coast time. They were happy we got there an hour  sooner than my stated time.  That 30 minute break is non productive, foolish and in simple terms stupid by stupid law makers and hanger ons in the FMCSA  that know nothing about the transportation system of this country. Thesee  law makers think one size fits all and that is not true. We are adults and most of us know when we need to stop, but not being able to stop the clock is the real killer on the road. If we could stop the clock  we would not be so fat. Grouchy. We would bmore healthy. and more productive and a lot happier..

Mind Games
Mind Games

it is illegal to talk on your CB radio in Delaware the law passed about five years ago. You cannot talk if the truck is moving, I am a ham operator and I ran across that law some time ago.

Also there was a group trying very hard to remove everything electronic in our cabs, where they went I dunno.

We must come together and do what we need to do and take our freedoms back and put these people back in their places.

 

Lady D
Lady D

In light of the usage of cell phones I don't get that it's OK to use a CB radio but you can't talk on your phone. What is the real difference? You are still talking on a devise that is held in your hand and that means only one hand on the wheel. On the other side of this controversy is texting. Now this I can understand. You have to take your eyes off the road in order to see the letters you need to type. This part of no texting while driving I agree with. I just wonder how long will it be before they try to outlaw using a CB while driving and if they go that far what or how will this effect law enforcement? How many years have we in the trucking industry been using a CB? 

Mind Games
Mind Games

These HOS are a result of corruption lawyers money power and I am just waiting for the day when you drivers sit aside race class and opinons about the so-called president all those things are distrations we have a huge problem on our hands and the only way to solve it is to pull their pants down and force them to see they are not as big as they think they are in DC.

The day you guys are tired as I am of being treated like a fool let me know.....

Driver1
Driver1

And I've got my company buying into this horse crap and telling me the 150 mile radius isn't made for us short haul drivers

Driver1
Driver1

If this were a republican in office and made these changes the unions would have had a nationwide strike. Damn unions and damn the democrats

Dean
Dean

Cell phone companies missed the boat by not making legislators include fast food in the distracted driver campaign.  If they had done that we would have had billions of lobby dollars fighting against cell phone bans.  As it stands today, however, it is much more distracting to make a clandestine cell call while watching for police cars than it used to be just making the call. 

I am strongly against texting while driving.  Texting definitely takes more mental resources that any conversation. 

I am more afraid of texters and girls putting on makeup or people eating a burger with one hand and a shake with the other than I have ever been of a cell caller.

 

thanks

SilverEagle49
SilverEagle49

19:00 CST

8-15-2013

www.johncornyn.com/googlehangout

Sen John Cornyn is having a Virtual Town Hall meeting on Google+.  Check in to encourage him to support the Small Business Trucker, by blocking funding of the FMCSA for the enforcement of EOBR's and the new hours of service.  Also make him aware that you are aware of the government paying for Mexican EOBR's while requireing starting in 2014 US carriers pay for their own EOBR, even after the Supreme Court Struck this rule down.  Make your voice heard tonight!

Jim Jordan
Jim Jordan

Academic studies are just that, academic.  And most academics will admit that their studies usually serve to add 'elegance' to what is intuitive to everyone else.  Of course optimization will take the edge of the cost impact of HOS changes.  The question is just how much control does the carrier have over the levers of optimization?  As all the comments above indicate, not much.  So we are left with the conclusion that reducing driving time is likely to increase cost.  Unless pricing is elastic and fuel prices are static (both not the case), increased cost is bad.  Intuitive, huh? 

concerned citizen
concerned citizen

There are plenty of union and non-union jobs that work 12 hour shifts.  These jobs are typically high demanding and high stress, yet there is no one regulating these jobs.  Why is the trucking industry scrutinized so heavily?  It is ok for a machinist to work 12+ hour shifts working on steam turbines and no one blinks an eye. I don't think that the "law makers" take in to consideration how there food gets to their supermarket everyday, or how the fuel gets to their local station, etc.etc.  Almost everything that is purchased everyday was delivered by a truck.

Road Dog
Road Dog

Optimization?

We've been working on that since the founding of our company. We've especially stepped up our efforts through the recent economic downturn. Among other moves, we have invested heavily in proprietary software to optimize driver and truck scheduling while adhering unfailingly to the HOS. And every time the HOS change, we've got to invest more in it.

As we go into our busiest seasons, our projections show an increase in operating cost to our small fleet in excess of the slanted Cost-Benefit numbers that FMCSA put forth. Regulations based on the one-size-fits-all, desk-driven mentality ignore real-world reality.

Oh, yeah...And HOS, which remained (basically) unchanged since late 1930, have had 5 substantive changes since 2004. That's bureaucratic over regulation run amok. 

 

 

Tank33
Tank33

I dont believe talking on the phone while driving is the problem its the texting from the truckers and the 4 wheelers that was the main issue. I think that if they wouldve cracked down on the trucker and 4 wheelers evenly they would then make a huge difference but by making the trucker suffer way more than the 4 wheeler was wrong. Maybe if our law makers would get there head out they could see better and make better decisions. On the HOS they need to go back to the old 10 and 8 rule and drivers could actually get a nap and not be so tired and stressed out.

Guest
Guest

Hard to "optimize" the schedule when the customer demands loading and unloading at non "optimal" times. 

Also, if you do succeed in setting up the "optimal" schedule, it goes out the window when the customer can't take delivery as ordered and delays the truck.  I guess we also need to properly schedule accidents and surprise road closures that have not yet occurred. Just get out the crystal ball and schedule that which is unpredictable. Call it what it is: big government over-reaching into private enterprise. It can't work.

Amishtrucker
Amishtrucker

Ok, let's put aside "counterintuitive" and look only at precise statistics.  Precisely how many accidents were caused by cell phone use 30 years ago?  Let's call that statistic A.  How many accidents were caused by cell phone use last year.  Let's call that statistic B.  If B is greater than A, I would say my research indicates cell phone use while driving DOES cause crashes because when there were zero cell phones there were zero cell phone accidents.  Wait let me have an expert check my math.  Yep, I'm right, B seems to be greater than A.  "Hello, Carnegie Mellon, my 11 year old daughter is ready for her Assistant Professorship." 

To answer your question, what does this mean to trucking.  Nothing.  This should be a lesson that not everything that comes out of academia is worth reporting because sometimes it just doesn't make any sense. 

Damon
Damon

It seems most "scholarly" research these days seems to be pencil-whipped conclusions based upon peer review, junk science, and the overwhelming need of so-called "experts" to stand in line for new grant money to prove whatever the government or think tanks want them to say.  And our fearless leaders develop policy and regulations based upon these scientific studies.  The HOS scientific method involved college students in Washington State as a proxy for professional truck drivers.  Give me a break.

oldxtrucker
oldxtrucker

Amishtrucker has it exactly right. The fix is not as much with the trucking industry as it is with the shipping parties. When the government steps in and holds the shipping companies accountable for crashes and violations because of their unrealistic demands it will go a long way to fixing the problem. The comment by the CEO of Maveric is also exactly right , it will only work if drivers and trucking companies actually decide to follow the rules exactly.

Disgusted
Disgusted

Schedule optimization my ass.  The idiots that like to write these things have no clue what they are talking about.  We are required to deal with customer's schedules, not our own.  When you transport perishable product you cannot unload in the parking lot.  Unfortunately, we must live with the customer's problems that we do not create nor can we control.  These self proclaimed experts need to get in touch with reality.  It is easy to say the industry can do something when you sit in a nice clean office and do not live the industry you are discussing.

Overregulated
Overregulated

Why would I want to listen to an academic Euro try an explain how increased regulation is a good thing that will increase profits.  Laughable on its face.

 

It is also invalid analysis based upon an irrelevant assumption.  If a trucking company can cut costs and improve bottom line using schedule optimization under the new regulations, they could obviously cut costs and improve bottom line under the old regulations as well.  We'll still achieve better margin per driver under the old rules.

Amishtrucker
Amishtrucker

"By optimizing plans and schedules?"  DOH!  Why are you letting our secret out???  All along we just thought FMCSA was too dumb to think the trucking industry had any idea optimization was a viable solution to counter the effects of overregulation.  If the big carriers and their big lobbies can't scream cost cost, what defense do we have left?  Here is the thing.  The big carriers with their massive customer databases and trucks flooding interstate highways do not make up the majority of the trucks on the road, according to registration information.  Here is another secret.  The carriers that do make up the majority and do not have economies of scale DEPEND on optimization to SURVIVE.  They are optimized to the max.  And the term supply chain is incorrect.  It is a supply slinky because it is the carrier that is required to be flexible so that Production Schedulers and even 3PL's can pat themselves on the back and say "see how good my performance is."  So be careful in who you determine has the ability to "optimize," because in the supply slinky, the ends are always fixed and when government tries to "fix" the middle, the slinky can't walk down the stairs.

guest
guest

Who had cell phones 30 years ago? Your Statistic does not have the correct information.

Gordon A
Gordon A

 @oldxtrucker I got tired of the hurry up and wait after i got to the receiver. I did that in the Army . once was enough. I just got to the pint of not ready to off load? why. If answer did not suit me I told them I am returning it to the shipper or  to a bonded warehouse thank you. Or you can take it now. I have been know to take it off property adn then dispatch or agent called adn set it right. . At My cost but I did more times than not get a few to understand one simple fact. You ordered it . You knew it was coming, You make the unload appointment time. You unload it. If not it is NOT going to be warehoused on my trailer.  Far too many think drivers are free lumpers.

 

Kitty Softpaw
Kitty Softpaw

 @oldxtrucker Can we also hold the shipper accountable and responsible for overweight tickets, not the driver and transportation company

Gordon A
Gordon A

 

You missed the point of his post.



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