Attention small truckers! As of December 16, 2014, hours of service (HOS) regulations have been rolled back to the way they were before July 2013. The 34-hour restart is still in effect, but now it’s not so strict. For example:

  • Truck drivers are no longer required to include two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. within a 34-hour restart; any 34-hour period will do.
  • The rule limiting the restart to once per week (every 168 hours) has been suspended; now, trucking companies pick the timing.

Other HOS regulations are still in effect, including the 11-hour driving limit, the 14-hour work day, and the 60/70-hour driving limit in 7/8 consecutive days.

Impacts of Hardened HOS Rules in 2013

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) called for stricter HOS rules in 2013 to improve safety, but the new rules were hurting truckers too much. That’s why some 34-hour restart provisions have been temporarily rolled back for the first nine months of 2015. Here are some of the negative impacts the stricter HOS provisions had while they were in place:

  • Decreased driver earning potential: Last year, you might have gone off duty early Saturday and not been able to start a new work week until Monday morning. With the more flexible 34-hour restart now in place, you can start working Sunday afternoon or evening, making it easier to get more miles and earn more money.
  • More noticeable driver shortages: The trucking industry was already stretched thin by driver shortage, and strict rules caused a 3 to 8 percent loss in productivity for carriers, as truck drivers were required to work less. As a result, carriers hired more drivers and put more trucks on the road to accomplish the same amount of work. What a waste of resources!
  • Difficulty maintaining lean inventories: Delivering goods on time and keeping inventories lean was difficult last year with strict HOS rules. Just-in-time (JIT) deliveries were tough, too, especially during seasonal peaks.
  • Increased freight rates: The need to use more resources to deliver the same goods caused freight rates to increase in 2014. Analysts think loosening the reins will restore some lost productivity and lower freight rates in 2015.

Are you excited about the HOS rollback? It’s sure to have positive effects, since drivers will have the chance to earn more and carriers will be able to transport freight for less. Interestingly, the current HOS rules are set to last only until September 30, 2015. We’ll see what the FMCSA and Congress decides to do at that point.