When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration last updated its hours of service regulations on September 29, 2020, the COVID pandemic had already gripped the nation for a solid six months, with no hint of a "return to normal" in sight. Now, nearly two years later, only the men and women of over the road trucking stand fully equipped to assess the actual impact of the split-sleeper changes handed down with the new rule, among the most significant HOS changes since the ELD mandate.
The FMCSA declined to openly comment on the success or failure of the 2020 changes on productivity grounds, but that much is understandable as split-sleeper and other changes overlap with the COVID HOS waivers issued on a continuing basis throughout the pandemic. (The latest such waiver expires in August, as about a third of recent poll respondents note they continue to utilize the waiver on nearly every load.) Evaluation of the hours changes from a safety perspective, too, is difficult, given so much of the regs have been waived for so many over the time period since implementation.
From a productivity standpoint, the new split-sleeper appears to have delivered more efficient use of time allowed in the regs, according to owner-ops interviewed for this story.
While at first the change seemed difficult to account for via many ELD software systems, and some dubbed it a half measure with respect to alleviating detention time at understaffed shipper and receiver facilities, owner-operators said it's become a new arrow in their quiver to deal with delays on the road. These interviews follow an Overdrive poll, which found that the wide majority of drivers, some 303 out of 455 respondents as of this week, or two-thirds, found the 2020 hours changes made them more productive. Half pointed to the split sleeper changes helping daily duty-cycle management, while more than half noted their required 30-minute breaks, such as they may be, can now be taken at less arbitrary times.
Just 15% and 14%, respectively, said HOS changes didn't have any impact or actually hurt their productivity.
Of the group that said the change actually hurt them, none could be reached for comment. Email [email protected] if that describes you.