New HOS Regulations - Safer Roads, or Just More Expensive?

The new FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) HOS (Hours of Service) rules go into effect July 2013. The question is, who will they affect and how effective will they be?

The new rules were introduced to reduce accidents involving motor carriers. Industry advocate ATA (American Trucking Associations) has appealed the decision lobbying for the regulations to remain the same. ATA claims the existing rules already are effective in reducing motor carrier accidents. “Since these rules went into effect in 2004, highway fatalities in truck-involved accidents have fallen 29.9%, even as overall miles traveled for trucks have risen substantially,” ATA Chairman Dan England said.

What is the Economic Impact?

It depends. Some dedicated carriers, who already limit driver hours and miles, may be unaffected. For example, Cardinal Logistics appreciates the new rules. “Any law that further professionalizes our industry and gets the right people driving on the highway and gets the wrong people off of the highways, we’re a massive fan of,” says Cardinal chairman, Vin McLoughlin.

On the other side, Transport Topics said, “The new proposal will do the most harm by altering the 34-hour restart provision, the portion of the rule that permits drivers to begin a new workweek.”

According to transportation analyst John Larkin of stifel.com, “The new restart rule could produce a 17% reduction in theoretical work time per week for these carriers. If you’re trying to run hard in a traditional irregular route market, from 700-mile to 1,200-mile length of haul, the new rule really throws a crimp into your productivity.”

Stiff New Penalties*

• Drivers may be placed out-of-service (shut down) at roadside until the driver has accumulated enough off-duty time to be back in compliance;
• State and local enforcement officials may assess fines.
• FMCSA may levy civil penalties on driver or carrier, ranging from $1,000 to $11,000 per violation, depending on severity.
• The carrier’s safety rating can be downgraded for a pattern of violations.
• Federal criminal penalties can be brought against carriers who knowingly and willfully allow or require HOS violations, or drivers who knowingly and willfully violate the HOS regulations.
* Provided by fmcsa.dot.gov.

Who Do the Rules Affect?

The new rules affect almost everyone. If motor carrier accidents are reduced — all motorist, insurance carriers, and transportation industry vendors will be affected.

If transportation costs increase due to the new rules, this would ultimately be passed on to consumers.

What are your thoughts on the new HOS rules and how will they affect you and your business?