With restart and rest break changes to the Hours of Service rules looming, and a July 1 effective date for these new regulations should nothing deter them, The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has done its homework for what the future might hold.
The industry finds itself in a “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” position, which prompted the ATA to contact some of the industry’s leading trucking companies to find out how they are preparing for the new rules.
Should those rules go into effect on July 1, here’s what the ATA says it has garnered during interviews with trucking industry movers and shakers:
Start now: Many trucking companies have already started explaining the potential changes to their drivers and customers. Operationally, the restart rule changes and the new 30-minute rest break requirement may cause significant disruption to your daily procedures. If caught off guard, unaware drivers may be confused about the requirements and potentially incur violations that could generate fines and that will affect carrier CSA scores.
Use a personal approach: Most in the industry find that drivers retain information better in a one-on-one or face-to-face classroom environment. If possible, integrate HOS training into your current training regimen. Sometimes, driver schedules may preclude attendance. Make training materials available to these drivers as soon as possible and be available for follow-up questions. Train early and often because it could take several interactions for full comprehension.
Use real-world examples: While the FMCSA has provided examples on their website of how driver logs may change, most companies with whom ATA spoke didn’t find them particularly helpful because they didn’t reflect the daily operations of their company. ATA recommends that you develop log book examples based on a typical and/or exceptional driving week at your company. Provide those to the drivers and compare them to examples under the current rules. If time and resources permit, it may be a good idea to select a small group of drivers to operate under the new restart and rest break provisions for a week or two. If you’re able to do so, use their logs as examples to other drivers and encourage trainees to ask questions.
Update route planning protocol: Whether you are using route optimization software or planning a route manually, it is imperative to update your protocol to reflect any HOS changes. With truck parking scarce, it may be challenging to find somewhere for a driver to rest and it may have to come sooner, or later, than expected.
Discuss efficiency: The new rules can negatively impact the efficiency or productivity of your drivers. Drivers need to understand the importance of planning their week to the extent possible. Drivers who regularly utilize the current 34-hour restart may experience significant losses in productivity depending on what time of day they begin the new restart period. Additionally, efficiency losses may be experienced as a result of the rest break provision or additional company procedures added to ensure compliance. In most cases, your drivers will desire efficiency and productivity as much as your company. Educating them on the benefits of planning will undoubtedly pay significant dividends.
Educate your entire organization and your customers: It is important that all parts of your organization are fully aware of the potential changes and their consequences. This is especially the case if your drivers use the current 34-hour restart. Driver managers will need to alter their procedures and the sales staff will need to work hard to adjust shipper and broker expectations. Flexibility will need to be built into business relationships to ensure continued efficiency and productivity.
Here are some HOS Training Resources:
- ATA’s Summary of HOS Changes — www.trucking.org/Safety/042013_ATASummaryofFinalHOSRules.pdf
- ATA’s HOS Comparison Chart — www.trucking.org/Safety/HOS%20comparison%20chart.pdf
- FMCSA’s Summary of HOS Changes — www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/hos/HOS_Compare_new_rule_to_current.pdf
- FMCSA’s Interstate Truck Driver’s Guide to Hours of Service, Updated February 2013 — www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/hos/Interstate-Truck-Driver-Guide-to-HOS_508.pdf
- FMCSA’s Logbook Examples — www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/hos/logbook.pdf
For additional training resources or ideas, consider reaching out to colleagues in the industry. The industry is dedicated to safety and has a long history of collaborating to meet its unique needs. If you use electronic logging devices, your provider will also be able to provide useful insight and materials for HOS training. Your insurance carrier may also be helpful. And consider reaching out to your state trucking association who may be able to direct you to additional resources.