The newly revised trucking hours-of-service rule took effect last month, a rule that had kept many transportation managers up at night worrying about the effect on schedules and costs.
The rule limits to 14 the number of consecutive hours a trucker can be on duty. The rule also limits onduty hours to 60 in any consecutive seven days and 70 in eight consecutive days. A driver must take at least 34 hours off to restart the cycle. Both shippers and carriers worry that these limits will effectively shorten drivers' work days and result in missed pickups or deliveries. Observers also expect the rule to have an impact on costs: Some truckers intend to charge customers for any delays at their docks that keep a driver off the road, since under the new rules, waiting time is considered on-duty.
To ease implementation problems, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has asked states to issue warnings instead of citations for all but flagrant violations of the new rule during the first 60 days it's in effect.