HOS = Kjøre hviletid

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Resent-Date: Sun, 18 May 1997 20:59:26 +0200
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Date: Sun, 18 May 1997 20:55:52 +0200
To: truckstop@feskar.net
From: Geir Sundet
Subject: HOS = Kjøre hviletid
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Kjære sjåførkolleger.

Det er ikke bare i Norge vi diskuterer kjøre og hviletidsbestemmelsene.

Mellom 22 og 24 på lørdagskveldene diskuteres slike emner på "#Truckers
Forum", som er en "pratekanal" drevet av sjåfører i Canada og US. (Du
finner info om denne i Baren på Sundets TruckStop).

På 17. mai diskuterte vi bl.a Kjøre & hviletid, som i US kalles HOS = Hour
Of Service. Etterpå fikk jeg tilsendt et skriftelig forslag fra en av
amerikanerne. Jeg legger det ut på nettet til dere. De som er stive nok i
Engfelsk kan kanskje få noe ut av det. Jeg har ikke lest det sjøl siden det
er langt, og nettopp dumpa ned i kassa mi.

Dersom noen kommer gjennom det, synes det er bra og har noe tid til overs,
så hadde en norsk oversettelse eller resume vært i sin fulle orden.

Hilsen Geir

Name: Bob Kniefel E-mail: rkniefel@conc.tdsnet.com

No amount of careful planning will ever replace dumb luck.

Hours of Service
Another Opinion

Bob Kniefel wrote:

On November 5, 1997 The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), part of The
Department of
Transportation (DOT) issued an "Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making"
in The Federal
Register. This means that in the near future this agency intends to issue
new or
revised regulations for one or more of the segments of the public under it's

In this case the new or revised regulations will apply to the trucking
more specifically to the hours of service (HOS) of truck drivers. The current
rules which control how long a commercial driver may drive without rest and
many hours they may work in any given week were written in the 1930s and have
remained substantially unchanged for almost sixty years. With speed limits
raised, vehicles becoming both larger and heavier and highways becoming more
crowded this is a topic which is of vital interest to everyone.

The FHWA asks for public comment on it's proposals in this notice, but the
public notice that the FHWA intends to change the rules for truck drivers was
tucked away in the pages of The Federal Register on Election Day where it
attract very little attention from anyone but the trucking industry. Left to
it's own devices, and judging from past history, the FHWA intends to consult
with various "experts" in the trucking industry and issue what rules they may
recommend. These "experts" for the most part will be executives of trucking
companies more interested in protecting and expanding their company's profits
than public safety. Truck drivers, if they comment at all, are more
in increasing their wages through increased allowable driving time than in
protecting the public.

To it's credit the FHWA is seeking information in a worldwide search for data
about how fatigue affects truck drivers. How much data is collected, how
the data that is collected together with how and how much it affects any new
rules remains to be seen. That it will have a profound effect on both the
economic situation and the safety of everyone is easily demonstrated.

Today everyone at one time or another uses the streets, roads and highways;
going to work, going to school, going shopping; going anywhere. And we all
ourselves sharing these right of ways with commercial vehicles. At the same
almost everything we buy is transported, at one time or another, by a truck.
Somewhere between manufacture and consumption almost everything moves by
Everyone in the country will be effected one way or another by whatever rules
the FHWA finally decides to implement.

Also to it's credit the FHWA seems not only ready but eager to consider any
all workable solutions to what it terms "the hours of service problem". The
agency gives evidence of a willingness to consider more than simply hours of
service, but to consider proposed regulations which could change the
and fabric of the trucking industry.

Let me suggest some changes which, while not dealing with hours of service
directly, would have a profound effect on the hours drivers are allowed by
employers to work as well as a profound effect on highway safety.

A system, any system, is likely to be unstable and the more complicated the
system the more likely it is to be unstable. Economies are unstable.
talk about waves and cycles, other terms for instability. We have all read,
some of us have experienced, economic disasters which have resulted from this
instability. Markets are unstable, witness any stock market in the world.

Transportation systems (and the trucking industry is a system), like any
systems, are by their very nature unstable. System engineers speak of a thing
called "feedback". Built into a system are the systems reactions to changes
within the system. If those reactions serve to limit the change they are
"negative feedback" and if they force the change faster they are known as
"positive feedback". System engineers generally agree that positive
feedback is
usually bad and negative feedback is usually good.

What kind of feedback is taking place in the system we know as the trucking
industry? To begin, let's limit our inquiry to the hours of service

We all have a general idea of what is meant by the term "overhead". A truck
costs the same whether it goes two hundred miles or five hundred miles a day.
Health insurance costs the same whether the employee it covers works forty or
eighty hours a week. Usually this overhead cost is amortized over a forty
work week. At the end of forty hours each employee's wages plus each
share of overhead has been paid for by the product of that employee's
labor. The
Fair Labor Standards Act requires that employees who work in excess of forty
hours in any calendar week be compensate for those excess hours at a rate
of 1
1/2 times their compensation for those hours less than forty. In most cases
works no hardship on employers, the cost of overhead, which is paid at the
of forty hours is replaced by the increased cost of wages and it's pretty
much a

The trucking industry, for the most part, is exempt from the Fair Labor
Standards Act and the trucking industry has a legally mandated work week
of, not
forty, but sixty or seventy hours. The trucking industry even has a legally
mandated eight day week!

Because of this anomaly when, at the end of sixty or seventy hours, an
employee's share of overhead is paid, there is nothing to take it's place if
additional hours are worked. The first illegal hour a driver works is the
profitable hour, for his employer, that he has worked all week.

Is it any wonder that trucking companies, under extreme economic pressure
themselves, bring almost irresistible pressure on drivers to exceed hours of
service regulations? Is it any wonder that the companies keep wages low
that drivers, in order to increase their income, are willing, even anxious,
exceed hours of service regulations? The wonder is that in spite of
pressure to drive faster and longer truck drivers are the safest drivers on

Truckers have over 50% fewer accidents per mile driven then drivers of other
vehicles and only 25% of the accidents involving trucks were caused by an
by the truck driver. Combine these figures and it becomes obvious that trucks
are responsible for only about 8.3% of all highway accidents. The way this
of the system is structured, the feedback is definitely positive. Surely
must be a better way.

Let us expand our inquiry to the larger system, the trucking industry as a
whole. To simplify, the less money a carrier charges per mile the less
money it
makes per load. The less money it makes per load the more loads it hauls. The
more loads it hauls the more money it makes overall. The more money it makes
overall the lower the rates it can afford to charge per mile. At some point
breaks down because rates sink below cost. But wait, if the company persuades
it's drivers to exceed hours of service regulations it's cost declines and it
can again afford to lower rates to haul more freight to make more money to
rates. More positive feedback to me. Surely there must be a better way.

Law enforcement is also under the control of the administration through the
Department of Justice. The way law enforcement works, has always worked, is
catch people who have broken the law and punish them for doing so. The system
now in place consists of spending millions of dollars through the
Department of
Transportation to regulate an industry so it can spend millions of dollars
through the Justice Department to catch and punish people who violate the
regulations. That the regulations are being violated is ample excuse for more
regulation and another round of hiring and spending. Another instance of
positive feedback. Surely there must be a better way.

Is there no way to build negative feedback into this system? Can the trucking
industry never be structured in such a way that it limits itself
internally? Can
the industry never limit it's own excesses, excesses which if left
unchecked for
any period of time threaten to destroy the industry itself? I think there is,
and I think it is within the mandate given by congress to the D.O.T. and
the D.O.T. has passed on to the Federal Highway Administration.

To stabilize the reckless and relentless trend toward disastrous rate
which threaten the industry there need be only three regulations, both of
served the industry and the public well for almost fifty years.

First prohibit noncompensatory rates. Refuse to allow carriers to charge
less for a service than it costs them to provide that service.

Second, prohibit preferential rates. Refuse to allow carriers to
transport a
commodity for one shipper between two points for a lower rate than it charges
another shipper to transport the same commodity between the same two points.

And third prohibit dual operation. If a carrier is a common carrier or a
contract carrier, so be it. But don't allow one carrier to be both.

These three simple regulations together would level the playing field for
and large carriers as well as small and large shippers.

I realize that none of these constitute negative feedback, but together they
will produce a stable and healthy industry preventing it's blind and
accelerating rush towards destruction.

To build negative feedback into the system as it applies to hours of service
requires some interdepartmental cooperation, but here only two things are

First, the Department of Labor must reclassify truck driving. At present
truck driving is classified as a "semi-skilled occupation". This should be
upgraded to skilled, for truthfully there is a high level of skill demanded
today's truckers. Are they not required to have special schooling? Are they
required to have special licensing? Does that not indicate more then "semi"
level of skill? (No, it doesn't mean skilled with semi's.)

Second, the exception to the Fair Labor Standards Act should be
removed. Why
should truckers be kept outside the protection of the law given to workers in
other industries? I can think of no reason that does not involve greed on the
part of special interests.

The result of these two simple actions would be profound. The first would
driver's wages to rise to the level of other skilled occupations, between $15
and $20 per hour, or around $.40 per mile. This is a figure that is already
floating around the industry. This would also require that driver's be paid
time spent as well as miles driven. A carrier that paid it's drivers $15 an
while they were being jacked around at a grocery warehouse would soon see
the warehouse either got its act together or found another way to get its

At somewhere between 40 and 80 hours a week (probably around the 60 now
regulated) carriers would began to realize that drivers were becoming too
expensive to use and curtail efforts to require them to work more hours.
The law
could even be ammended to allow drivers ten or twelve hours a day and sixty
hours a week before over or double time provisions kicked in.

Wages that produced an after expense but before tax income of $40,000
together with the changes the industry would undergo to utilize the shorter
week would attract more and better people to the industry and would tend to
driver turnover low thus reducing recruiting cost offsetting the increased
of wages.

The increase in the number of drivers required to transport freight would
jobs which in turn would increase demand for the goods the industry
and have a not insignificant effect on the national economy.

The reduced effort required to police an industry which regulates itself
save millions of dollars at all levels of government.

Jobs are created and wages increase enlarging the tax base while at the same
pouring five billion dollars into the economy creating still more jobs and
greater demand for goods which increases the industry's tonnage levels
while at
the same time reducing the need for enforcement which reduces government
spending which reduces taxes which increases spendable income which... The
ripples go on and on.

Surely this would be a better way.

You will notice that I haven't mentioned recommended hours or logbooks vs. no
logs at all. There needs to be some regulation of hours of service, but
a driver's hours are limited to 60 or 70 or even 80 hours a week, the system
needs to be changed to remove the economic pressure on both carriers and
to excede the legal limit. Whether record keeping remains manual logbooks or
automatic electronic record keeping (I do not understand how this would be
into practice), records must be kept or regulation itself becomes an
in futility. How records are kept and how many hours a driver is allowed to
are of less importance than how the system within which they function is

The FHWA has an opportunity to start with an almost clean slate. Lets hope
rather than applying band-aids to the worst symtoms of an ailing system the
regulators of the industry sieze the moment and, for a change, treat the
not the symptoms.

Sundets TruckStop

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