March 11, 2014 10:45 AM, EDT
HOS Rules Continue to Hurt Drivers, Execs Say
John Sommers II for Transport Topics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Fleet executives said last year’s changes to the hours-of-service rule continue to take a bite out of drivers’ take-home pay and further complicate efforts to retain drivers.

Dave Manning, president of TCW Inc., said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s requirement to take an uncompensated 30-minute break can cut a driver’s pay by as much as 5%.

“And I haven’t talked to a driver that thinks that makes them safer,” Manning said during a panel discussion here at Heavy Duty Dialogue on March 10.

TCW is a shorthaul carrier based in Nashville. The nature of the work requires drivers to take many short breaks, but they are not long enough to qualify under the HOS rules, he added.

Manning also noted that his company’s nightshift loses the ability to work on Saturday because of the overnight rest times required as part of the restart provision. That is resulting in fewer available working hours for those drivers than before the rules took effect last summer.

Aaron Tennant, president of Tennant Truck Lines Inc., spoke of problems resulting from the “softer side” of the HOS rules, including the general frustration of the driver base.

He said drivers who used to get home on weekends can now sometimes get stuck as far away as 400 miles, making them more likely “to be irritated out on the road.”

Kirk Altritcher, vice president of maintenance for Crete Carrier Corp., said that to address this “softer side” of the HOS changes the fleet is trying to find ways to compensate, such as doing some basic maintenance on the vehicle during fueling, to get them back on the road faster. Altrichter is the outgoing chairman of the Technology & Maintenance Council.

The executives, including Lee Long, director of fleet services for Southeastern Freight Lines, said the HOS rules were proving to be a disincentive of adopters of electronic logs.

The panel discussion was moderated by Jeff Mason, executive vice president of Communications and Public Affairs of Transport Topics Publishing Group, and Tim Kraus, president of the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association. The organizations sponsored the all-day HDD event.

Additional coverage of Heavy Duty Dialogue will be included in the March 17 print edition of Transport Topics.