Channel 19

Todd Dills

Looking for fleet/owner-operator common ground

| October 26, 2013

Today, you’ll find it in the hours of service changes and the move toward mandating electronic logs — that is, to the extent that results of the recent survey of fleet-management types conducted by the American Trucking Associations’ research arm, the American Transportation Research Institute, parallel Overdrive‘s own not-so-distant-past polling. If we directly compare the ATRI results with our own polling of readers just more than a year ago, you’ll see top-five rankings for both hours and EOBRs/ELDs.

Here’s our results from last year, also shown in the poll below right, and the rankings in parentheses, where applicable, indicate where the issue appeared on ATRI’s top 10 list:

We published a series of reports and related stories on the top five problems ranked in this list by Overdrive readers in August of 2012. Find the main reports via the following links. 1) Fuel prices. 2) Hours and EOBRs. 3) Detention. 4) Freight rates. 5) Equipment costs / emissions regs.
Overdrive published a series of reports and related stories on the top five problems ranked in this list by readers in August of 2012. Find the main reports via the following links. 1) Fuel prices. 2) Hours and EOBRs. 3) Uncompensated detention. 4) Freight rates. 5) Equipment costs / emissions regs.

1) Fuel costs (8)

2) Hours and EOBRs (1 for hours, 5 for EOBRs)

3) Detention time (1, if you roll this into the hours issue)

4) Freight rates (4, if “the economy” is considered as the same issue)

5) Equipment costs / emissions regs

6) Lack of influence in lawmaking

7) Distracted driving

8) Safety regs/CSA (2)

9) Parking (6)

10) Costs of health care/insurance

As has been suggested by others, such as in this roundup of thoughts on avenues toward getting operators’ concerns aired in Washington, published last week, issues on which the largest number of industry participants are in some form of agreement might best be prioritized for advocacy efforts. Now, that’s not saying owner-operators and fleets will necessarily desire the exact same thing on certain of these issues, but on the subject of the hours changes, at least — and perhaps EOBRs, certainly in the smaller-fleet realm — I’d be willing to bet there’s a fair amount of agreement.

Related: Attention to detention and the problem of uncompensated time

And as I suggested above in the list, drivers speaking in volumes about the issue of detention, which isn’t hard to talk about in an hours context, could help catapult that issue to further prominence among regulators, boosting conversation about it in shipping/receiving and fleet communities and at the very least making the offenders more apt to move to help correct the problems. I’ve been reporting on detention recently, the first part published Thursday (look for part 2 Monday). 

In any case, I appreciate any thoughts on this. If drivers and fleet folks truly presented a united front on hours to Congress and regulators, would anything change for the better in terms of flexibility? It’s clear at least that the newest changes took away perhaps the only flexibility-enhancing tool folks had with the new restart restrictions. As Myron Lind put it in comments under this piece querying the economic impact of the changes, “the 34-hour restart has been slightly more difficult to factor in than I originally anticipated.” Lind did note, however, that overall “the rule change is somewhat inconvenient but has not had much impact on how I operate. I choose loads based on a variety of factors, hours available being just one of those factors.”

Unity happened at least in part on the truck-parking issue, resulting in Jason’s Law legislation being codified. Real results out on the roadways is a matter for another day, as parking is still clearly an issue, however …