Trucking Hours of Service

Trucking Hours of Service

The hours a truck driver may spend behind the wheel per day or work per week are a basic building block of any supply chain. Shortening those hours can not only cut into a truck driver’s earnings but make delivering goods on-time while maintaining lean inventories even more difficult for motor carriers and costly for shippers.

The latest round of revisions to hours of service or HOS rules first introduced in the 1930s came in 2013. Portions of that rule redefining how drivers can use a 34-hour weekly restart were challenged by trucking organizations and suspended by Congress in 2015, pending a report on their impact by the Department of Transportation.

In 2015, the Federal Administration issued a final rule requiring truck drivers to log their on- and off-duty hours electronically by Dec. 18, 2017.  The rule, which fulfills a congressional mandate, was challenged by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, but upheld by a US Court of Appeals in October 2016.

Eletronic logging device (ELD)

Electronic logging is a major operational and cultural change for truck drivers, who have used paper logs to record their “duty status” since the 1930s. The transition to electronic logging devices or ELDs, which is expected to be complete by 2019, will pose challenges for shippers as well as drivers and trucking and logistics companies.

More precise logging -- and fewer opportunities to falsify logs and get away with it -- will mean tighter delivery schedules for shippers and less inherent flexibility in supply chains. Trucking operators and their customers will be pressed to improve route planning and reduce detention time at shipper customers and consignees.

As truck drivers feel the the clock eating into miles, motor carriers will be pressured to increase driver pay to compensate and to keep drivers. Drivers may become even harder to hire and keep on the payroll. Shippers may have to adjust their supply chains and cooperate more closely with carriers or pay higher rates.

An expected hit to productivity and truck and driver utilization will tighten truck capacity available to shippers as carriers prepare to comply with the rule and more and more ELDs are deployed. An unknown number of drivers are expected to leave the industry and an unknown number of HOS violators eventually could be shut down.

In the long-term, ELDs and the data collected by them and tighter hours of service enforcement will make truckers more productive, supply chains more efficient, and highways safer. In the short-term, however, the ELD mandate could crimp truck capacity at a time when freight demand is expected to rise, pushing costs and rates higher.

Slideshow: Hours of Service, Years of Debate: 1935-2013

News & Analysis

28 Aug 2020
A proposed Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration pilot project would let truck drivers stop the hours of service clock for up to three hours and then resume driving, giving them more control over their schedules, but a longer day.
Supply chain management.
15 Nov 2018
Collaboration is not just an activity, but a process, and it requires a focus on customer experience, logistics executives told the Traffic Club of Chicago at a Business Development Symposium Wednesday.
A truck being loaded in the United States.
08 Nov 2018
Shippers plagued by capacity shortages need to eliminate inefficiencies and wasted time to effectively create capacity now out of reach.
Trucks travel on a US highway.
15 Oct 2018
US trucking has entered a new era, in which a ‘new normal’ has been established. Even so, for shippers, there are some encouraging sector developments concerning driver recruitment and overall truck capacity.
Trucks travel on a road in New Jersey, United States.
27 Sep 2018
Owner-operators want regulators to tackle detention time by shippers in addition to hours-of-service flexibility.
Central Oregon Truck
07 Sep 2018
With many new technologies depending on gathering mobile data, getting drivers to buy into innovation is the key to success. And Central Oregon Truck Company offers an effective system that other trucking companies would be prudent to study.
A truck travels on a road in Mexico.
28 Aug 2018
The Confederation of Industrial Chambers, which represents more than 120 chambers around Mexico, said the government should hold off enforcing the hours-of-service rules, and it cited several reasons for its request.
A truck travels on a US road.
23 Aug 2018
Few debate the enhanced safety on US roads stemming from the electronic logging device (ELD). But what about circumstances the truck driver cannot control, such as an accident that suddenly closes a major highway? Or when equipment breaks down? Proposed reforms address these and more.
Trucks travel on a US highway.
13 Aug 2018
The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate did not cause a loss of drivers, but a loss of driving hours. Further, changes shippers made that were propelled by the ELD are likely to be lasting, even if exemption amendments for selected trucking segments are passed.
A truck travels in the United States.
06 Aug 2018
The loss of supply chain time, not truck drivers, has squeezed US truckload capacity; and there’s one segment of surface transport that’s seen a substantial service change.
20 Jul 2018
Many truckload carriers are on their second round of pay hikes this year as freight demand grows faster than driver supply. Can they keep pace with the peak?
17 Jul 2018
Once cyclical, problems such as the driver shortage are becoming systemic. That threatens to ‘bake’ higher costs into transportation rates.
A truck travels in the state of Washington, United States.
05 Jul 2018
A petition calling for a ‘small business’ exemption to the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate has failed, and that means the ELD era has become more entrenched.
A truck travels on a US highway.
03 Jul 2018
It’s a stronger US truck market than even 2004/2005, drivers are aware that they are in short supply, and there is no end in sight — hence there is an obvious reason why both shippers and trucking companies should keep those market conditions in mind.
A truck travels on a US road.
28 Jun 2018
The United States is early in the electronic logging device era, but this is clear: 'fudging' is out, and electronics — precise measuring of minutes — is in, and that has affected delivery completion times in several sector segments.
28 Jun 2018
Sponsored: Dunavant Global Logistics Group COO Richard McDuffie on US-China tariffs, Gulf resins, infrastructure, and ELD impact on capacity.
A truck travels on a US highway.
26 Jun 2018
The number of hours truckers may drive is getting more attention from Congress, but do bills calling for reform, or the overturn of the electronic logging device mandate, stand a chance this year?
11 Jun 2018
Sponsored: Ferromex's Vice President Luis Hernandez on North American expansion strategy, and capacity, regulation challenges and opportunities for intermodal growth.
Trucks travel on a US highway.
31 May 2018
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Thursday provided guidance on when drivers can use trucks for personal conveyance, among other guidance areas.
FFE Transportation.
30 May 2018
Shippers could face challenges finding trucks June 5 to 7 as an annual three-day roadside safety blitz tests electronic logging and hours-of-service compliance.
A freight train travels in Illinois, United States.
24 May 2018
The United States is early in trucking’s “new normal” era, but what is already clear is this: shippers will have to use all options — whether truckload, intermodal rail, less-than-truckload, or even package van — if they want to secure surface transportation capacity.
Trucks travel in Tennessee, United States.
24 May 2018
When talking about capacity, shippers too often focus on drivers, facilities, and assets. Time, however, is a key element in transportation capacity, and one that needs to be addressed if shippers hope to find freight space at reasonable prices and ship “more with less” in 2018.
Trucks at a carrot farm in California.
15 May 2018
The electronic logging device mandate’s impact has rippled across supply chains, and there is no better example of that than the US agriculture export market.
A truck travels on a US road.
15 May 2018
Technology came under the spotlight at the Transplace Shipper Symposium this week, as did the truck driver shortage (as expected). Other topics that may help shippers address their freight transportation problems yielded insights, as well.
An inland rail yard in the United States.
15 May 2018
US beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) unable to arrange inland transportation are considering a new option — signing long-term contracts for dedicated drayage.
A truck on a US highway.
03 May 2018
So how do you know whether a US dedicated contract carriage solution is right for you? Here are nine questions that will shape your review.
A truck travels on a US road.
02 May 2018
Shippers struggling to find a truck in the United States are turning to dedicated contract carriage. However, it’s not a simple switch and shippers are advised to do their homework — there’s an upside and a downside.
A truck travels on a US road.
01 May 2018
Trucking companies at the NASSTRAC Shippers Conference say they aren’t having an easy time finding capacity either, citing rising labor costs and a shrinking labor pool. And there are other sector issues they are dealing with that shippers never see.
A truck travels in Arizona, United States.
26 Apr 2018
US truckload contract rate increases came in hot in the first quarter, rising by low, double-digit percentages at the largest carriers, squeezing shipper operating margins, and challenging logistics planners.
A truck being loaded in the US.
17 Apr 2018
Guarantees may be hard to come by, but assurances of volume may help secure capacity and avoid the worst rate hikes.
Infographic: 12 Steps for US shippers
11 Apr 2018
In the electronic logging device era, shippers will have to do more than offer drivers a cup of java and a key to the bathroom if they want access to US truck capacity at reasonable rates. Here is an infographic that provides a quick-reference list to help keep shippers' goods moving.
Truck on a US road.
09 Apr 2018
Full enforcement of the electronic logging device mandate began April 1, but inspectors issued a slew of violations in early 2018, federal data show.
Information sign to truck drivers.
05 Apr 2018
In the electronic logging device era, shippers will have to do more than offer drivers a cup of java and a key to the bathroom if they want access to truck capacity at reasonable rates.
A truck travels on a US highway.
03 Apr 2018
US truck capacity may get worse before it gets better, as electronic logging device enforcement begins this month with anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of drivers not having the required device in their cabs. Even so, shippers can use tips described here to keep their freight moving with minimal disruption.
13 Dec 2017
The federal truck safety watchdog agency and its state partners have chosen to “phase in” enforcement of the mandate, with the FMCSA granting several, temporary delays or partial exemptions.
13 Nov 2017
False logs are an "epidemic," and shippers are vulnerable, speakers tell the JOC Inland Distribution Conference. The latest federal data back them up.

Commentary

The electronic logging device means big data analysis is possible across the trucking/logistics sphere — and that opens up a world of opportunities for improved efficiency, fleet optimization, and more.

More Commentary