Once again we are looking at H.O.S. changes. Any time there are changes, there are also unintended consequences. Some will like them, some will hate them, and some will never know they changed until it is too late. With these changes I see some good and some bad. This is certainly just my opinion, so please feel free to let us know your opinions.

The 30 Minute Break Change

Let me start this part by stating that I do like the 30 minute break. What I don’t like is being given a time frame on when to take it. The changes to this provision allow us to take our 30 minute break while remaining “On Duty.” It also now allows us to take it before 8 hours of “drive” time instead of 8 hours after we have started our day. This gives us a bit more flexibility. 

Let me address the “On Duty” break time. There are times when this can be advantageous. One example would be when we are “On Duty” while we are forced to sit on a dock, even though we are doing nothing. This time can now be counted as a break giving us another 8 hours until the next required break. There are many instances where this can be used to our advantage. This also means that if you take your 30 minute break after 3 hours of driving, you don’t have to worry about another 30 minute break the rest of your work day. 

There is another side, however. I can see a possibility of some micromanaging supervisors putting pressure on drivers to drive even when “On Duty” and actually performing work. Of course we should always take a break when we feel it is needed, but that doesn’t mean some won’t give into the pressure. Using that 30 minutes “On Duty” as a break should be solely at the discretion of the driver. Allowing the truck to get a break while the driver doesn’t seems to be the opposite of what the regulations are intended to do.

The Extended Sleep Berth Change

This is another regulation that on the surface seems like a good idea, but also has some downsides. Being able to do a 2/8 or a 3/7 split does add to our flexibility. The huge part of this is being able to extend our 14 hour clock by 2 or 3 hours. This can allow us to have some extra drive time when stuck at a shipper for an extended period of time, or if we stop to rest to avoid rush hour traffic. This is helpful and I have already taken advantage of it, and plan to again when needed, but be aware of the downsides.

First of all, if you take advantage of the extended time on your clock, you still need to take a 10-hour consecutive break at the end of your day. If you do not do that and choose to run Split Sleeper Berth, you must pay close attention. If managed incorrectly, this can bite you in the days to follow when you are forced to take a 2 or 3 hour break when you either can’t do it, or don’t want to. Make sure you know how that Split Berth works before taking advantage of it.

The other, less tangible downside is the value of your time. Having a 14-hour, unstoppable clock made our time more valuable. Now, we are essentially giving up 3 more hours of our time. Again, overbearing managers may feel they can pressure us to use that provision without looking at the effects it will have on our clock later in the week. The hard 14-hour clock put some pressures on shippers and receivers to work more quickly getting us loaded or unloaded. It also put upward pressure on rates. I can see both of those benefits being diminished. 

What do you think?

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Clark W Reed

Clark Reed of Roscoe, Illinois is an OTR company driver and trainer for Nussbaum Transportation based out of Hudson, Illinois. He has been driving since 2005 and has driven van, reefer, and tanker. He currently hauls dry van to all lower 48 states. Clark is passionate about MPGs and how driver habits influence them. The lifetime average of his 2018 Cascadia is 9.75 mpg, with eyes on 10. Clark, along with Henry Albert, was one of the seven drivers in 2017's "Run on Less" by NACFE, a road show, demonstrating what fuel efficiency can be obtained with existing technologies.

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