Between 1997 and 2001 he conducted a statistical study of 1,000 truck drivers at Midwest truck stops and found that 80% said their logbooks were inaccurate, with 54% stating that that they had worked more time than they actually logged – mostly by misidentifying wait time at loading docks as break time. On top of that, 64% claimed they had violated the 10-hour daily driving limit mandated by the current HOS rules at least once.
“That’s why I think the new rules are unlikely to reduce driver fatigue or [truck-related] highway fatalities,” he told Fleet Owner. “What’s key here is that in the supply chain today, trucks and drivers are used as a ‘buffer’ because there is no cost to it. There is no incentive to pay them for that wait time, so they are used extremely inefficiently as a result.”
Belman said, however, that the new HOS rules that go into effect Jan. 4 next year should effectively act as a “shock” to shippers – forcing them to radically change how they manage drivers. That’s largely because break time under the new rules will count against a truck driver’s total allowable workday of 14 hours.
“When something costs nothing, it’s not managed. But when there’s a cost associated with it, people start managing it better,” he explained. “So when the regulatory climate changes, we should see better [supply chain] planning emerge, which should help change truck driver work habits.”