A year ago, in July 2013, the final provisions of the hours-of-service rule (HOS) went into effect. The U. S. Department of Transportation has now had a year to review the results associated with the changes, but the reports that are now being published are all strangely lacking.
Given the fact that the impetus for implementing the HOS rule was improved safety on the roads, there has been surprising little analysis that speaks to how the new rule is improving safety across the trucking and fulfillment industries.
Logistics solutions providers are on the search for stats that link the HOS rule directly to safety on the road, only to come up short in their search. While DOT reports are weak when it comes to tracking safety data, they have produced strong analysis in another area—productivity.
Defining the HOS Rule
According to Logistics Management “the regulation was aimed at decreasing the amount of CMV accidents due to driver fatigue.”
The new rule upheld the 11-hour driving limit that had been established in May 2011 and established a statute on the use of a restart, once per week, every 168 hours that a driver is on duty— in addition to a requirement of 34 off duty hours that includes time between 1 AM and 5 AM. If the restriction on drive-time is followed, road safety would increase as drivers took longer breaks that allowed them to sleep for adequate periods while on the road.
Unfortunately, a lack of transparency has hampered the ability of the DOT and other analysts to measure the success of the new HOS rules in relation to the safety of drivers.
To find out what the DOT has to say about the HOS rule, check out the Hours of Service FAQ page— especially the facts about what will happen if truck accidents continue to decline. Here you will find safety data that stretches from trucking accidents in the 1970s to the first ruling that was put into place in 2003 regarding the changes to hours of operation. Again, while this fact does address the safety of drivers, it does not provide additional resources for fact finding.
Is There a Downside to the Rule?
When the rule was first introduced in 2011, the DOT projected that the economic impact of the new rules would be negligible while the overall benefit to supply chain efficiency would be incalculable.
While there may have a decrease in traffic accident which were caused by or involved fulfillment teams (we just don’t know), the reports so far produced have revealed that the greatest impact has been felt by logistics teams—especially when it comes to lost productivity.
According to the DOT, there was an anticipated decline in business due to the new rules, but the initial projection was only a 1 to 4 percent loss. But, in reality, Logistics Management reports there has been a loss of 3 to 9 percent.
While even these numbers seem minimal, that lost productivity can add up.
One way that logistics teams across the U. S. are combating the decrease in hours of service for drivers is through systematic rate increases— a whopping 73 percent in some instances.
And it’s not just an increase that smaller logistics providers are passing on to their customers. Even companies with fleets of significant size are ratcheting up rates. In fact, some 76 percent of carriers have raised their rates significantly to compensate for lost productivity.
The Future of Logistics
In order to prove that the HOS rule has had a positive impact on the shipping and logistics industry, the DOT must follow through with more pertinent studies showing a direct correlation between the HOS rule and driver safety. Otherwise the entire manufacturing industry—from the factor to the end consumer—will be left to wonder if the new rule is worth the increase in prices.