FMCSA sees HOS rule net benefits of $270 million

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The new hours-of-service regulation will produce net benefits to the public and industry of $270 million, principally due to the flexibility afforded to short-haul operations using equipment not requiring commercial driver’s licenses, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration concluded.

The flexibility afforded such short-haul operations, including a second 16-hour window for working per week and freedom from logbooks, will mean $280 million a year in reduced costs to the industry, FMCSA claims.

The long-haul segment of the trucking industry, however, will bear approximately $30 million in direct costs due to the restrictions placed on drivers splitting their rest in sleeper berths. FMCSA said the net cost of the sleeper-berth restrictions was $10 million after taking into account $20 million in estimated safety benefits.

The American Trucking Associations is especially concerned about the impact of the sleeper-berth provision on team operations. “FMCSA’s decision to keep most of the rules intact confirmed the industry’s research that the current hours rules have been effective in improving highway safety, providing for drivers’ health and ensuring efficient transport of goods,” said ATA President Bill Graves. “However, we need to closely examine the impact of the new ‘sleeper berth’ rule on trucking companies and their drivers, particularly team drivers that are so critical to our just-in-time economy.”

Public Citizen, the lead group challenging the hours-of-service regulations now in effect, said the new rule is disappointing, saying it is virtually unchanged from the rule set aside by the appeals court. The group was particularly critical of the decision to keep the increased driving time and the 34-hour restart, which allows for more on-duty time in a week.

“While we support the portion of the rule that no longer allows drivers to split the time they spend in sleeper berths, the overall increased driving and working time is not supported by the vast body of scientific literature that exists about fatigue and driver safety,” Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook said. “Nor does this proposal help drivers get on a 24-hour circadian schedule. We sincerely hope that in the coming weeks the agency will reconsider this issue and redraft the rule.”

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For a copy of the final rules and other information, visit FMCSA’s website.