New Hours of Service Final Rule Offers New Challenges for Drivers
December 2011 saw a change to the Hours of Service regulations that truckers must follow, with the biggest change coming in the 34-hour restart rule.
The new reset rule allows only one reset per week, with a mandatory minimum of seven days between resets, and there must be two blocks between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. in the 34-hour period. This means a driver who stops at midnight Thursday night may reset his clock on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. while a driver who stops at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning may not drive again until 5 a.m. Monday morning, a full 43 hours later.
What this means in loss of income has not been determined yet, but the hope is that drivers will be better rested. That said, on the face of it, the new rule is not beneficial for team drivers or those who drive at night. Since these drivers must also have those two early morning blocks in their reset times, they will find themselves sitting for longer periods simply through the way that their workweek falls.
Examples: Driver A starts driving at 8 a.m. Sunday morning, and completes his 11 hours driving by 8 p.m., with an hour break at 2 p.m. for lunch. He does this until Friday when, with 66 hours behind him, he chooses to sit until Sunday morning at 5 a.m. to reset his clock. He can now repeat the previous week's cycle indefinitely.
Add to this the problem of more trucks on the roads during the day, when passenger traffic is heaviest, and the good intentions of the rule-makers becomes a logistical nightmare for professional drivers.