Gain a Competitive Edge with Hours of Service Utilization

The federal ELD mandate means drivers must be more careful about meeting hours of service rules.

While the mandate doesn’t actually change HOS limits, it relies on electronic logging devices (ELDs) to verify compliance, instead of paper logs which are subject to forgetting or “fudging” the numbers.

HOS violations can result in stiff fines, higher insurance premiums, lower CSA scores and liability if a non-compliant driver is involved in a traffic accident.

On the other hand, optimizing HOS effectively can actually help when it comes to on-time deliveries, customer service, driver well-being and the overall success of your company.

Let’s take a look at a strategy for effective HOS utilization.

Make Sure Drivers Know the Rules

Although drivers may have already learned about HOS regulations during their initial training, it never hurts to keep your drivers current on the rules for particular states or industries.

Here are a few important HOS rules all drivers need to stay aware of:

  • 70/8 and 60/7 cycles. For carriers operating every day, drivers are limited to 70 hours on duty during any 8-day window. If the carrier operates fewer than 7 days per week, the driver is limited to 60 hours during any 7-day window.
  • 34-hour restarts. When drivers use up their 70/8 or 60/7 limits for a given time period, they are required to take 34 consecutive hours off duty.
  • 14-hour on-duty rule. When drivers come back on duty, they have 14 hours to complete their driving for the day. After that they must take 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • 11-hour driving rule. Drivers are only allowed to drive 11 hours within the 14-hour window above. The remaining 3 hours can be used for other work-related duties.
  • 30-minute break. Drivers must take a 30-minute off-duty break after staying on duty for 8 hours.
  • Sleeper berth extension. A driver can “freeze” the 14-hour clock by spending 8-10 hours in the sleeper berth.
  • Split sleeper berth. Drivers can split their required 10 hours off duty into two shifts. One shift of 8-10 hours must be spent in the sleeper berth. A second shift of 2-8 hours can be spent in the sleeper berth, off duty in another location or a combination of the two.

Use Smart Time Management Before and During a Run

The next step is to schedule routes ahead of time to account for required driving windows and off-duty periods.

  • Stay away from traffic jams or construction sites when possible.
  • Seek out routes with light traffic.
  • Select resting places in advance. That way, the driver knows exactly where to go when it’s time for a break.

There are a lot of other smart moves that can help drivers make the most of their available hours.

  • Complete a pre-trip inspection and slow down. Speeding and vehicle defects are two things that can trigger an unnecessary roadside inspection by law enforcement.
  • Combine tasks, such as fueling, pre-trip inspections and restroom visits. The more tasks the driver completes during a single stop, the fewer stops they’ll have to make.
  • Always switch the ELD to the off-duty setting when not driving. The seemingly simple mistake of forgetting to do this during a stop wastes valuable time.
  • Use reset time wisely. That 34-hour reset is the time for mechanical repairs, doing the laundry, scheduling doctor appointments or doing a little sight-seeing. That frees the driver up for more productive activity once the on-duty window begins again.
  • It’s better to arrive early than late. The closer the driver can get to the customer, the better prepared they are to deal with possible hiccups en route. Depending on the number of hours available, there may be time for a break or restart.
  • Encourage drivers to keep a small refrigerator and microwave in their trucks. By reducing the reliance on truck stops, drivers have more freedom to choose where to park or take breaks. Plus, food from the grocery store is often less expensive than similar items from a truck stop.

Some carriers also incentivize HOS compliance with prizes for avoiding violations, or end-of-year bonuses for drivers with the best compliance records.

Maintain Detailed Records

Let the ELD be your friend. Now that it’s required by law, you might as well use it to your advantage. Because it automatically records accurate HOS data, it can help you maintain electronic records and avoid costly form-and-manner violations.

Use a well-organized filing system to keep paperwork in order, including timesheets, logbooks and all required supporting documents.

Audit drivers’ logbooks and timesheets. Errors and omissions can be costly, so it’s absolutely essential to check. Check for omissions of mileage, on-duty time, locations where driver reports for duty and locations where change-of-duty status occurred.

Optimize HOS with Power Only Trucking

Ultimately, you need to keep your trucks rolling as much as possible during that 11-hour drive window, and minimize the time your drivers spend waiting around for the next load.

Prime Inc.’s Advanced Fleet Power Only program helps with HOS utilization by giving owner-operators and independent carriers access to Prime’s vast freight network, with preloaded trailers ready to haul.

Advanced Fleet participants save loading and unloading time, for more efficient trip planning and time utilization.

The result is fewer HOS violations and more productive use of available hours, which yields better cash flow and higher profits.

To learn more about how power only trucking can help you use your hours of service more effectively, contact Advanced Fleet online or call us at 1-800-891-7277.

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