Small Trucking Fleets Commit about 60 Percent of Hours of Service ViolationsMay 31, 2017
For-hire motor carriers with fewer than 20 trucks were responsible for approximately 60 percent of hours of service (HOS) violations in 2015.1 The same year, carriers with fleets of at least 100 trucks accounted for less than 15 percent of hour of service violations.
Now consider this: for-hire motor carriers with fewer than 20 trucks account for about 1 in every 3 trucks traveling on U.S. roadways. This translates to nearly 20 percent of commercial trucks on U.S. roadways possibly violating HOS regulations at any given time.
What Are Hours of Service Violations?
Hours of service rules are federal trucking regulations that limit truckers’ on-duty and driving time in a given work day and work week. Overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), HOS rules are intended to mandate certain periods of rest to prevent driver fatigue.
Some common examples of HOS violations include:
- Driving in excess of the hour limit for a given day (or week)
- Failing to take the required rest breaks
- Falsifying log books or driving records.
When these (or other) HOS violations occur, the risk of driver fatigue-related truck crashes increases.
3 Reasons Smaller Carriers Are Receiving More HOS Violations
Various factors may be contributing to smaller carriers receiving the majority of HOS violations. Some of the most prominent factors, however, include that:
- Larger carriers are more likely to have electronic logging devices (ELDs) in their trucks – An ELD mandate for most commercial carriers is expected to take effect in December 2017. ELDs replace paper logs, keeping track of driving time, on-duty time and off-duty time. While many larger trucking companies have already adopted ELDs for early compliance, many smaller carriers are still relying on paper logs. In general, ELDs are associated with higher HOS compliance rates because manipulating ELD data is more challenging than doctoring paper logs.
- Larger carriers tend to have more sophisticated safety programs – Larger trucking companies typically have staff dedicated to promoting safety and compliance with various trucking laws and regulations. Effectively, this means that larger motor carriers tend to have internal oversight for HOS compliance. In contrast, smaller carriers are less likely to have staff focused on compliance issues, leaving more leeway for HOS violations.
- Inspectors may take closer looks at trucks without ELDs – Federal inspectors who monitor compliance with HOS rules are reportedly scrutinizing paper logs far more than ELD data. This phenomenon has not been documented by any official study or report. It does, however, seem possible in light of the fact that paper logs are easier to manipulate than ELD records. If true, this would effectively mean that smaller carriers without ELDs tend to be subjected to more inspector scrutiny than larger carriers with ELDs.
As December 2017 approaches, it remains to be seen if small carriers will be proactive in replacing paper logs with ELDs and if this move will reduce their HOS violations.
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1: 2015 is the most recent year for which complete data is currently available. Data originally compiled and published by Overdrive.