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Hours of Service Could Cost 4%-19% More

"The most impactful change" in hours of service is the consecutive nature of the 14-hour rule, according to truckload carrier Schneider National. The rules, scheduled to go into effect Jan. 4, 2004, state that once a driver starts working, the clock starts. Fourteen hours later, the driver cannot drive and must break for 10 hours. The rule will "adversely affect driver productivity for customers with freight characteristics that result in delays for drivers," Schneider warned. Examples include live load and unload appointments, excessive driver time at the dock to load and unload, multiple stops, border crossings, and miscellaneous waiting times.

The Walgreen Company's Jodi Dalton, expressed her concerns for the company's fleet operations. Store deliveries involve multiple stops to unload. Distribution center locations are planned to optimize service to stores in a region, so changes in hours of service could affect the distance fleet drivers could cover or the number of deliveries they could complete and still return to their domicile. Walgreen had not yet examined the full impact of the new rules.

Schneider pointed out that drivers compensated by the mile could experience reductions in earning capacity under the new rules. This, in turn, could help fuel a driver shortage, an issue the industry has not faced since the downturn in the economy reduced freight volumes and increased the supply of drivers.

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