Beat Hours of Service Issues with Good Trip Planning

Unless you have been hiding under a rock many will know that the hours of service regulations changed on July 1, 2013, yet again, or is it maybe, I’m not sure? Since as of the time of this writing there has been no decision made, but does it matter. I realize it is frustrating to have the FMCSA changing the regulations for no good reason or so that seems. I am not here to debate whether they will increase safety or not because in my mind any law that tells someone when they should stop, go, or eat is going against human nature and will never work. I do believe in guidelines and maybe a hard stop at the end of so many hours of driving but that’s it. Anyway they have changed or are changing them again, and with the current driver shortage many experts are saying it will hurt our industry even more. I believe it will hurt those running longer than those running within a 500-700 mile radius from their terminal. When you run within that distance you are usually home over a weekend anyway so getting the restart and night time hours in isn’t too much of a problem. It may hurt those that run longer such as California, you will have to plan out your deliveries and stops to match your down time. Some are saying it will cause us to put more trucks on the road to match existing delivery patterns.

I try to stay positive in this industry because I have been a part of it for over 30 years, but also because much of the crap I heard when I was driving was so individual that it can be easily overcome. For instance someone who is always running late, “Gets there when they get there” type of attitude will always have a hard time with regulations and time management. Those of you who are true professional drivers, map out your trip, plan for obstacles and delays, and are organized won’t have much of a problem. You will look at your current running pattern, analyze where you might have to tighten up to meet the regulations and start rolling again. If anything I think this will make drivers and dispatchers work together more closely and that’s a good thing. Bring in EOBRs and watch the fighting that will go on, it will make the changes in regulation look like nothing. Now I have a friend that has a business that hauls oversized and that may cause problems as they have to work with daylight hours, again for most of us it will change little. I had so many people tell me things that if I believed them I would be unemployed right now due to their bad advice. A long time ago I stopped listening to people that thought they knew what they’re talking about but don’t. It would be like someone with a rusted out truck that has never been polished, telling you the right way to polish your truck, forget it.

You will succeed with the new regulations, just start working with dispatch, plan you trips so that breaks happen naturally when you are stopping for deliveries, fuel, and so on. Get smart and work within the system instead of fighting it and you will find you will succeed with a career in transportation.

About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a transportation consultant and author of the books Running by The Mile and Driven to Drive. Find more information on his website at www.outridgeenterprises.ca