Challenges From the Recent Hours-of-Service Rule Changes

Self driving truck accident lawyer | The Law Offices of Hilda Sibrian

One of the ongoing issues facing all commercial truck fleets — as well as the drivers who work for them — is balancing safety and speed. Trucking companies have an understandable desire to get their trucks where they need to be as quickly as possible, but when drivers are handling vehicles that weigh 35,000 pounds or more, the drivers need to be adequately rested.

That’s why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented Hours of Service guidelines for truck drivers. Recently, the FMCSA updated some of these guidelines, and a survey shows that many truck fleets are struggling with these changes.

What the Survey Reported

The survey, which was conducted by the firm J.J. Keller, found that only 45 percent of respondents were aware of the new rules and had a solid grasp of the changes that their fleets would have to make in response. About 39 percent of respondents were aware of the new rules but hadn’t evaluated their impact, and 16 percent of respondents were just hearing about the new rules, even though the survey was sent a week before the changes went into effect.

Many fleets are also holding off on making any changes to their operations. About 27 said they had already made changes based on the new rules, and 23 percent said they were planning on making some changes, but the rest of the respondents were much more reluctant. About 10 of respondents said they were taking a “wait and see” approach, 7 percent said they wouldn’t be making any changes, and an astonishing 33 percent of respondents said they didn’t know what changes they might be making.

Challenges With New HOS Requirements

Some of the specific challenges that respondents mentioned included:

  • Compliance with the 30-minute break from driving – The new rules require a 30-minute break after eight hours of driving time, which is complicating drivers’ routes and schedules.
  • Driver HOS training – All of the new rules require additional training for drivers, which is a challenge when drivers are busier than ever due to the pandemic.
  • Understanding and managing 395.1 exceptions – While electronic logging devices (ELDs) are required for most truck drivers, the new rules create certain exceptions for short-haul routes. Fleets and drivers are having difficulty understanding these exceptions and following them.
  • Understanding ELD technology – Since ELDs are now required for most truck drivers, they need to know how to use these devices correctly to make sure they’re abiding by HOS guidelines.
  • Developing and updating new HOS policies and procedures – Companies need to develop and apply consistent policies and procedures for logging drivers’ hours of service, but that’s a challenge if they aren’t aware of or don’t understand the recent rule changes.

Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer

Even with the new changes to hours-of-service guidelines, truck drivers are still susceptible to fatigue, which can easily lead to an accident. If you’ve been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, call The Law Offices of Hilda Sibrian today at (713) 714-1414 or visit our contact page to schedule your free initial consultation.