Three Ways Truckers Can Resolve Issues Regarding Hours of Service

In the United States, the commercial trucking industry faces challenges of transporting high inventory from stockpiled shipments and shifting freight demands. Along with this, several of the latest safety regulations can make it even more challenging for motor carriers, freight forwarders, and other ground-based shippers to operate.

Along with issues related to unsafe driving and traffic violations, most truck drivers in America often find it difficult to comply with the hours of service (HOS) regulations. Keeping track of the complicated rules surrounding a driver’s hours is troublesome for most carriers and drivers themselves. However, sometimes, what may seem like a minor infraction is often considered as a series of violations caused due to driver fatigue by an inspector. HOS-compliance is one of the most important rules to be followed by truckers, and having a low score in this category may make driving unfeasible for them across the industry.

Read on to learn the top concerns of truck drivers about HOS regulations, and tips on solving this problem:

  1. Form and Manner Violations

Among all HOS violations, a significant number of cases are related to form and manner issues. A commercial trucker is held responsible for violating HOS rules if he/she is found making mistakes in completing the driver’s log. Form and manner violations cases are also easier to spot by an inspector.

Commercial truckers need to make sure their driver’s log includes date form and manner, name of carrier, main office address, total miles driven in a day, vehicle number, driver’s signature/certification, name of co-driver, remarks, and shipping document number(s).

In certain situations, the notebook is likely to undergo wear-and-tear, and this can become a reason for negligence in the eyes of the inspector. Installing an electronic logbook app in every commercial truck can address this issue, as the app will automatically update the data on a daily basis. This will enhance efficiency and introduce transparency in, and better access to, records.

2. Forced Dispatch and Night Driving

Forced dispatching is common among truckers who are employed by a transportation company or are governed by a contract. This occurs when a trucker doesn’t want to or is unable to go on the road for a trip for his or her company, but is forced to do so by the trucking company. In fact, this is also one of the reasons why the Teamsters came up in the 1900s.

Commercial truckers need to understand that they can refuse to transport certain loads. If the trucking company insists that the driver complete a specific trip, it can be found at fault for forcing the driver to drive a commercial vehicle in an unsafe manner.

Also, numerous truckers are hesitant to drive at night, and the ones who do so have adapted to this time frame only out of necessity or to avoid commotion. Nonetheless, night-driving is a major reason for road accidents because of low visibility and lesser vigilance on the driver’s part. Clearly, driving at night comes with greater risks than day-time driving. Most people are unable to be as productive as they are in the daytime, and need to sleep when it’s dark. Being compelled to transport freight at night because the time clock says you should can be treated as a violation of HOS regulations and can be contested against.

3. Lack of Rest Areas

As per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, property-carrying drivers may drive only if eight hours or less have passed since the end of driver’s last off-duty or after taking a 30-minute sleep period. Also, they may not drive after 60 or 70 hours on duty within 7–8 consecutive days of driving. Often, truckers complain that the lack of adequate rest areas and halt avenues compels them to continue driving without stoppage.

Driver fatigue is an important challenge that is associated with the lack of rest. By implementing the 34-hour restart rule, the trucking industry is trying to curtail accidents caused by this. A driver may restart the 7–8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

Rest is crucial for long-distance truckers. However, they are exempted from following the 34-hour restart rule if they are using either of the short-haul exceptions. A driver can avoid this if he/she is released from duty at the usual work location for five consecutive trips, returns to the work location after a duty of up to 16 hours, or has not used this exception in six consecutive days.

Such information is often a part of truck accident FAQs, as it is often helpful for truckers to know their employee rights and the legal procedures to counter unjust behavior.

Diligent implementation of hours of service can help the trucking industry to mitigate the risk of truck accidents and help increase efficiency. Violation of these rules can lead to truckers losing out on their HOS safety score, and fines levied on repeat offenders can often be costly. Prior knowledge of these rules and norms can help truckers and their companies function smoothly.

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