The comments of John Solliday in the Voices round-up of views on the new restart provisions in the revised hours rule (compliance date: July 1) reminded me of a conversation I had with former Overdrive Trucker of the Year and current and longtime independent owner-operator Henry Albert just after this new rule had been made final. Albert was wondering how exactly he’d make his then-current hauls work given the new restart limitations.
If I’m remembering it correctly, Albert was making an almost weekly turn from Charlotte, N.C., down to Laredo and back that typically put him home in the wee hours, whereupon he shut down for the following day and much of the next, then headed out in the evening to load for another turn.
Under the rules coming July 1, that downtime wouldn’t count for a 34-hour restart, given it didn’t include two 1-5 a.m. periods. But just as so many operators in similar situations, such as Solliday, have concluded, there was a simple-enough answer to it — the recap. Since the restart was added as an operational-flexibility option for haulers with the 2003 rewrite of the hours rules, running on a constantly rolling set of 70 hours in eight days (or 60 in 7 days if you run for a fleet that shuts down at least one day of the week) has become something of a rarity.
With the new rules, it may well become more of a standard practice, given the new restart limitations (restarts are also limited to one per week, measured from the beginning of the last restart).
Yesterday afternoon I had a conversation with company driver Todd McCann, who blogs over at the “Trucker Dump” blog on this site. He shared an analysis of his current restarting practices in this post to the blog and associated podcast April 19. Of the most recent three restarts he’d taken, none would have been legal come July 1. A couple weeks later, he says, “I did a 34-hour restart, and it would have been effective come July – so 1 out of 4 would have been effective in July.”
In the three situations detailed in McCann’s account on the blog, he would have had no problems making his appointments without the restart, but at once he “couldn’t have delivered any earlier.” Generally, he says, “As long as I can keep running, I’ll keep running – I don’t want a 34-hour if I don’t have to take one. The only time I stop [for the restart] is if I might as well.”
For him, the problem not having the option of the 34-hour restart in those instances is simply a matter of reduced flexibility for him down the line. “There would have been no benefit for sitting for 34 hours straight,” he says.
If he’s grateful for anything in the new rules, it’s that FMCSA didn’t get rid of the option of splitting 10-hour sleeper-berth periods into one 8-hour and one two-hour period. But FMCSA has changed on-duty definitions in other ways that could prevent drivers and owner-operators tied up at shippers and receivers from maximizing their on-duty hours, making running on the recap a potentially more flexible, possible proposition. You’ll now be able to legally log time resting in a parked vehicle as off-duty, thus some of that detention time won’t eat up your on-duty hours.
Hopefully, companies don’t turn around and use such as justification for not collecting/paying driver detention time (such as they do collect it now, in any case), but that’s a topic for another post.
What do you think? Have you been testing the new hours rule in your operation? Tell me in the comments or shoot me an email: tdills [at] randallreilly.com.
OK tornado update
Feel free to utilize Overdrive‘s Facebook page as a place to share availability for relief efforts to Moore, Okla., as the weeks go by. Consider it an initial-response sort of sounding board to communicate to and about organizations that expect needing haulers in the coming weeks. If past experiences are any indication, the needs will be great for quite some time to come.
Also, if you’re with a relief coordinating organization, feel free also to utilize me to help get information out to truckers as you need to. I’m sure I can speak with the rest of the staff here when I say that we’re happy to help in any way we can to get the word out. My email, again: tdills [at] randallreilly.com. Our hearts and minds are with the people affected there.