DOT announces new pilot program Business, News

DOT Announces New Pilot Program That Would Alter Hours of Service Regulations

11.21.2017 - 5:59 PM Comments: 16

In October, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a new pilot program that would study the effects of altering hours of service regulations for the ELD mandate. The research study would allow truckers to split their off-duty sleeper berth time into segments, instead of the required 10-hours off duty of the 8-2 hour split.

The study must be approved by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, but could ultimately lead to reevaluation of the hours of service regulations for truck drivers and those in the transportation industry.

To fill you in on what this entails, keep reading down below.

The Backstory

To understand what is going on, current Hours of Service regulations allow drivers to take an 8-hour sleeper berth time period to break up their 14-hours on duty or their 11-hour driving limit. Drivers who use this break must take a 2-hour off-duty period after the 11 hours are up.

The Hours of Service regulations have been a touchy subject for truck drivers. Just look at recent protests about ELDs that mostly focused on the Hours of Service rules. Truck drivers are voicing how unpredictable locations can be in terms of rest stops available. They are upset because a required break doesn’t mean that they can fall asleep instantly. Everyone is different, and a lack of flexibility in this regulation is what scares them the most.

In fact, scientific literature has suggested that regulatory limitations on hours of service may not be enough to prevent worker fatigue. A past study from 2011 that tested this demonstrated that daytime sleep led to:

  • Less total sleep time
  • Increased driver sleepiness
  • Increased blood glucose and testosterone levels by the end of the work week

This study also showed that split-sleep is preferable to sleeping during the day, which is what indirectly led to this new pilot program that has been announced.

Research Plan Specifics

To begin, 240 drivers would be selected and studied for 3 months. These drivers would have the option to split their 10-hour off duty period into segments as they see fit, such as 5-5 or 6-4.

Researchers will study these drivers to determine if the split negatively affects the drivers and if it results in an increase of fatigue or crashes. Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute and Washington State University will conduct the study.

By receiving data from ELDs, video recorders, roadside inspections, wrist actigraphy, psychomotor vigilance tests, sleep logs, and other means of data, researchers will be aware of daily life for each driver. They will then be able to make informative conclusions in regard to drivers using split sleeper berth options.

Feedback So Far

To voice your opinion, the DOT is accepting public comments for 30 days in regard to the study as it is being requested to the Office of Management and Budget. Many drivers have already made public comments, however.

There are those who believe the program should take place before the ELD mandate takes place, while others are against it. Most truck drivers do agree with the pilot program, with many highlighting how everyone doesn’t have the same sleep patterns. There is a public desire for flexibility in regard to the Hours of Service regulations.

What Happens Next?

If this pilot program is approved, then truckers could potentially have more flexibility in managing their hours of service.

That is a long way off, however.

For now, transportation workers need to focus on the ELD implementation, as it occurs soon on December 18th. If you are in need of an ELD, then contact UTECH today. With our knowledge and expertise, we will ease your fears, so you can continue doing your job efficiently.

We are leading specialists in the trucking industry, to help ensure safety for everyone on the roads. Our ELD has gone through a rigorous certification process, and we guarantee that it will make a great choice as an automatic onboard recording device for your business. With the well-known and tested GPSTab platform, our edition will provide more functionality to fleets of all sizes, while keep drivers happy.

Rodney Whipple 12.4.2017 - 1:22 PM Reply

I think the eld’s Are (censored). I’ve been out here for 20 years . I’ve had no accidents , no speeding tickets , and no out of service violations . To punish good drivers with this nonsense is rediculous . And for what ? Safety you say . Look at the big companies that already use them such as swift , Warner , Schneider and all the rest . Look at their safety records . They will not be any safer . I for one am against any device where the government or state agencies can keep track of your activities . If you wanna keep track of anyone it should be a suspected terrorize or a known drug dealer or a petafile . or how bout this , a wife beater that walks through a restraining order and murders his ex wife ., leave us truck drivers alone . It’s the only job in America where you can be punished for working to hard !

    David Bell 12.11.2017 - 5:54 PM Reply

    Rodney, you’re not the first to make this type of statement and you make some valid points. We appreciate the comments, keep ’em coming! Thank you for your service, your dedication and your efforts to safely deliver cargo!

Russ Arey 12.5.2017 - 1:32 PM Reply

To me its simple. Just look at the health of the drivers of yesteryear and compare it to todays drivers. My whole family drove in the late 60’s clear up to now. They stayed fit and rested better with the old laws. Worked when they needed to, rested when they needed to, and still managed to make deliveries on time and thats when semitrucks were less than luxurious. Now look at todays drivers? People that dont drive dont know. And to study them like mice wont help. Its not natural and therefore you wont get natural results. But hey, spend that grant money anyways. You have a mortgage like the rest of us thats getting harder to pay. Its just such a bummer that bunk science will determine our fate when all you have to realize is animals caged by rules is unnatural. Just go to a zoo sometime. People are no different. Let the trucks run and the drivers drive as they naturally see fit for themselves.

    David Bell 12.11.2017 - 5:51 PM Reply

    Thanks for the comments Russ. As you can see from other comments to our posts, other feel similarly to you! We appreciate the comments, keep ’em coming! Thank you for your service, your dedication and your efforts to safely deliver cargo!

Ed egolf 12.5.2017 - 6:09 PM Reply

I don’t see anything wrong with the hours of service the drivers who r complaining don’t understand the trucking industry and will never be stratified they want to make the big bucks and do less work I have been trucking for a long time and understand the business spilting breaks up like this would do more harm than good u have to adapt to way u drive and be ready to drive all or all day so your sleep pattern won’t ge the same

    David Bell 12.11.2017 - 5:54 PM Reply

    We appreciate the comments Ed. You share a perspective not as common as some of the others. Whether we agree or disagree, we share them all! Thank you for your service, your dedication and your efforts to safely deliver cargo!

Vincent Theel 12.21.2017 - 1:18 PM Reply

I’m a 30 year driver and can’t do 8-10 in the sleeper. I can still run with the best of em but I prefer my sleep in 4-5 hour increments a couple of times a day and I’ve got sense enough to wait out rush hour in Chicago and other big cities so as not to add to the problem, same goes for foul weather.
A $1500.00 loaf will never be worth paying a $5000.00 deductible.
They need to make a common sense ruling that offers some flexibility to these stringent requirements.
Just my two cents.
This industry needs the highly experienced drivers now more than ever. We pass in sorely needed knowledge to these younger, less experienced drivers.

    David Bell 12.22.2017 - 7:59 PM Reply

    Thanks for the comments Vincent. You’ve touched on a topic of heated debate lately, being forced to take breaks and sleep at times not in sync with your internal clock. It will be interesting to see how U.S.DOT responds to the research studies disputing the safety aspect of forcing breaks to comply with HOS rules. Keep the comments coming! Have a safe and happy holiday! We appreciate you.

Alvin Ploen 12.24.2017 - 6:00 AM Reply

Simply, 35 years & nearly 4 million miles accident & ticket free & an ELD is going to somehow make me safer! It’s not about safety & any logical person that looks at this mandate with an open mind would clearly see this! Hoping for some common sense in the near future!

    David Bell 01.3.2018 - 7:50 PM Reply

    Thank you for the comment. You are clearly the exception to the rule. Whether we agree on the intent of the ELD mandate or not is irrelevant. Those with greater influence than we have gained the advantage and the law is in effect. Based on statistics, road safety absolutely needs to improve. However, I don’t believe that the trucking industry should shoulder the burden alone. Passenger vehicles cause significantly more accidents than commercial trucks. Our legislators should push to have greater testing and training for everyone who is allowed to get behind the wheel. But that’s for another conversation. Please keep your comments coming and keep doing what you’re doing!

Billy 12.29.2017 - 4:00 PM Reply

We need the 4hr split back also we need to be able to edit every part of the log. For example by accident I forgot to hit the personal convayence button when I was going to Wal-Mart it started my 14hr clock and there’s no editing that.

    David Bell 01.3.2018 - 7:41 PM Reply

    Thank you for the comment. We are looking at adding split breaks, but it is not high on the priority list. Based on customer feedback, less than 5% of drivers are using it and even less are using it correctly. If we’re going to build it, we want to build it right. Keep the suggestions coming! We value your feedback.

Larry overholt 12.31.2017 - 3:20 PM Reply

I am 55 started trucking in the 78 for private company ( not for hire) I was 18 been all over this country in some really nice 379 s , took pride in my ride, always on time delivery , (my dream job ) the freedom on the road , I guess I’m old school but am not in favor of the eld period , don’t like to be controlled by government ! (Most of them are not for the people) most of the problem is with the training of new drivers! I saw it time and again , hours of service should not exist , I’ve sat at steel mills in pa waiting to get loaded many times up to 6 hours, (sleeper berth needs to be a drivers choice as well ) I’ve never been able to sleep for more then 4 to 5 hours in a sleeper with all the noise that goes with it ,(safety is not the issue in my book ) to me it feels like control ! So if the eld stays ( sleeper berth needs to be used at drivers choice, and hours of service needs to be done away with! Thanks

    David Bell 01.3.2018 - 7:40 PM Reply

    Thank you for your comments, your dedication to your craft and your passion for the industry. Please continue to share your opinions and we’ll continue to post them! Drive safe!

Phil Lewis 01.7.2018 - 4:25 AM Reply

It’s pretty black and white, the gps portion of the eld mandate is unconstitutional. Tracking my privately owned vehicle when I use it for private non-commercial uses without probable cause or a warrant breaches my fourth amendment rights.
I also take issue with the 14 hour rule which forces many drivers to rush through their day and actually act unsafe. Before the 14 hour rule we could stop and take a rest to eliminate getting caught in rush hour traffic or simply because we were tired. Now drivers have to run tired so as not to waste precious hours of service available.

Patrick 01.9.2018 - 5:52 AM Reply

I pull a hopper bottom. Most places I deliver to or get loaded at run from about 7am to 4:30 pm. The mandatory 30 minute break makes it difficult to to accomplish what I need to get done in a day. Most times, I get a break while waiting to load or unload waiting in line and it doesn’t coincide with my HOS. Secondly, you can’t tell me it’s safer to shut down for 10 hours while I’m an hour from my house on a Friday night and a snow storm is coming that I can outrun legally than it is to drive through 6 inches of snow and ice with 4 wheelers driving like a bat out of hell around me the next morning. I know my limitations and don’t need a box to tell me how to do my job or when I’m tired.

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