An American Transportation Research Institute analysis says the potential annual cost benefit of allowing commercial drivers additional flexibility when taking required hours-of-service breaks can be as much as $150 million.
ATRI used empirical truck GPS data to model the application of split rest beyond the current eight- and two-hour increments allowed under the existing HOS rules. It found that drivers could spend less time and money driving the same distances.
The Department of Transportation recently sought public input about whether to reopen its hours of service regulations with a view to creating more flexibility for truck drivers (AA, 8-31-18, P. 4).
Analyzing a congested 40-mile stretch of highway in Atlanta showed that the time it took to travel that corridor ranged from a low of 40 minutes to over 90 minutes during rush hours, more than doubling driving time and related operational costs.
ATRI then modeled scenarios where a driver operated under current rules but with a flexible 6/4 split rest time. With flexible hours, the driver could avoid congestion, and complete a 585-mile trip with 45 fewer minutes of drive time. Similar results also were found for 7/3 and 5/5 split scenarios.
When replicated across the industry, a conservative estimated savings in annual drive time of more than 2.3 million hours could be realized with flexible HOS options, along with more than $150 million in annual operational cost savings.
“One of our biggest challenges with the HOS rules is the lack of flexibility,” says Gary Helms, a driver for Covenant Transport and an America’s Road Team Captain. “Under the current rules, when traveling through congested cities like Atlanta, I really have no choice but to sit stuck in traffic and watch my available hours tick away.”
He adds, “As ATRI’s study shows, with flexibility in the HOS, I could choose to rest during the worst congested times and make my delivery schedules with less time behind the wheel.”