HOS reform may renew pay, freight rate debate

The projected cost of new Hours of Service (HOS) rules may foster the need to re-examine both driver pay and freight rates in the near future, according to some industry experts. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates it will cost the trucking industry about $1.28 billion to comply with the new HOS structure: 11 hours driving, 14 hours on duty time, and 10 hours off duty

The projected cost of new Hours of Service (HOS) rules may foster the need to re-examine both driver pay and freight rates in the near future, according to some industry experts.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates it will cost the trucking industry about $1.28 billion to comply with the new HOS structure: 11 hours driving, 14 hours on duty time, and 10 hours off duty time.

FMCSA's analysis also predicts the industry will have to hire an extra 63,000 long-haul drivers and 21,300 short haul drivers to comply with the new regulations.

FMCSA said that even though drive time is increased by one hour, the reduction of on-duty time by an hour and the fact that drivers must stop work 14 hours after starting reduces the number of hours that drivers could work. However, FMCSA added that the new rules should save the industry a projected $671 million by reducing accidents costs, bringing the total HOS bill down to $611 million.

Those costs and the need to attract more drivers may spur the industry both to increase driver pay and seek to increase freight rates to cover that increased cost, said Mike Williams, vp of legal and business affairs for third party logistics firm Vexure Inc. in Jacksonville, FL.

"People complain about the trucks on the road but they perform a mission-critical function in keeping this country going," Williams told Fleet Owner. "And it takes a certain person to be a good truck driver, because they are on the road for long periods away from home just to make a good wage to support their families.

That's why driver pay may need to go up as the new rule gets implemented.

"Good drivers are already hard to find and the industry will need more of them to meet the demands of the rules," Williams explained.

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