ATLANTA, GA – As a veteran of the U.S. Navy, law enforcement, and the trucking industry, Thomas Marlow is not one to mince words: implementing the new hours of service (HOS) rules next year will be “very, very tricky.”
“The consecutive 14 hour on-duty time requirement in the new rule is the trickiest part – and the most controversial,” he said at an HOS productivity summit hosted here by truckload carrier Schneider National and Georgia Tech’s Logistics Institute.
As the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s division administrator for the state of Georgia, it’s Marlow’s job to make sure the state’s trucking inspectors understand the new rules and enforce them. However, he also recognizes that dealing with new HOS rules – rules that haven’t been substantially altered in over 60 years – is a tough task for everyone.
“These new rules were written and formulated solely to improve highway safety and save lives – but they will also change the way the trucking industry does business,” he said. “The 14 hour on-duty time part of the new rules is a case in point. It’s going to require shippers and carriers to work together because trucks won’t be able to sit waiting to unload at docks all day anymore.”
Marlow believes the 14-hour on-duty provision is what will be most contentious because it completely turns current trucking procedures on their head. Currently, truck drivers can be on duty 15 hours but can extend that duty cycle by taking breaks throughout the day – especially when waiting to load and unload at a warehouse. With the new rules, however, break time must be counted against the driver’s reduced workday of 14 hours.
“The difference really isn’t in the amount of hours they can be on duty – it’s how those hours are counted,” he said. “Waiting didn’t used to count against a driver’s hours – now it does.”
Marlow said the key to making the new rules work will be cooperation between shippers and carriers, especially when it comes to reducing wait time. “If trucks can get in and out of the dock quickly, you won’t see much of a productivity loss on the part of carriers,” he said. “But if there isn’t cooperation to reduce wait time, then it’s going to hurt.”