HOS impact on long-haul likely above estimate

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s projection of $30 million in added costs for long-haul due to restrictions on split rest likely understate the impact, the head of the American Trucking Associations’ safety department said Aug. 26.

The agency estimates that the new hours-of-service regulation’s requirement for a minimum of 8 consecutive hours in sleeper berths will cost the long-haul industry $30 million a year and produce $20 million in public benefits. In FMCSA’s analysis, the $10 million net cost for the long-haul industry is offset by $280 million in benefits for the short-haul segment due to regulatory relief for short-haul operations not requiring commercial driver’s licenses.

Speaking at the GATS Fleet Forum in Dallas, David Osiecki, ATA’s vice president of safety, security and operations, said he doesn’t have a number for the impact, but he suggests the number is low. “In my opinion, if we start collecting the data when the rule takes effect, it will be a lot more than $30 million,” Osiecki said. He added that some very large carriers might see millions of dollars in added costs by themselves. ATA anticipated some major restrictions on sleeper berth usage, but the group had hoped that FMCSA would exempt team operations from those changes.

ATA is looking at options for a response to FMCSA if it chooses to make one. But despite the concerns, the association sees the new rule on the whole as favorable because it retains so much of the current rule that benefits carriers, such as 11 hours of driving and the 34-hour weekly restart. “Safety is not deteriorated and may well be improving,” Osiecki said.

The new rules, issued Aug. 19 and to take effect Oct. 1, make three changes to the rules currently in place:

  • Drivers only can satisfy the consecutive rest requirements using a sleeper berth if they take at least 8 consecutive hours in the berth. Another off-duty period of at least 2 consecutive hours is required during the work day, although that break does not stop the 14-hour clock.
  • An additional short-haul exemption allows a second 16-hour work day each week for drivers (1) working within a radius of 150 air miles of their reporting location; (2) returning to their reporting location each day; and (3) operating equipment not requiring a CDL (less than 26,001 pounds weight rating except for placarded hazardous materials loads).
  • The 34-hour restart of the 60-/70-cumulative-hour limit now can occur at any time. Under current regulations, if a driver exceeds the 60-/70-hour limit, he can’t restart his week without remaining off-duty until the end of that 7-/8-day period.
  • For a copy of the final rules and other information, visit FMCSA’s website.