Study Shows Benefit of Flexible HOS


Research has shown drivers could be more productive with more flexibility in their required hours-of-service breaks.


The American Transportation Research Institute released the results of new analysis Monday showing the potential benefits of split rest beyond the current eight- and two-hour increments allowed under the existing HOS rules.


Through this analysis it was found drivers could spend less time and money griving the same distances behind the wheel.


ATRI’s study utilized a congested 40-mile stretch of interstate highway around Atlanta, which in recently years has been recognized for having two of the four most congested traffic bottlenecks in the country – during a 585-mile trip from Burlington, N.C., to rest stop near Boligee, Ala. – to quantify the operational impact of congestion. That route was selected because there are no viable alternate routes.


The congestion test stretch started on I-85 north of Atlanta, followed the top-end perimeter of I-285 and concluded on I-20 west of the city. The initial assessment showed it took between 40 and 93 minutes to traverse the corridor, depending on the traffic conditions and time of time, more than doubling the driving time and related operational costs.


ATRI then modeled scenarios from 3,600 truck trips where the driver operated under current HOS rules and a flexible 6/4 split. Under the flexible hours, the driver was able to avoid congestion and complete the 585-miles trip in 45 fewer minutes. Similar results were found for 7/3 and 5/5 split scenarios.


When replicated across the industry, the study estimated savings in annual drive time of more than 2.3 million hours and $150 million in operational costs. Nationally, congestion on U.S. highways adds an additional $63.4 billion annually to the trucking industry’s operational costs.


“One of our biggest challenges with the HOS rules is the lack of flexibility,” Gary Helms, an OTR driver for Covenant Transport, said in a news release accompanying the study’s results. “Under the current rules, when traveling through congested cities like Atlanta, I really have no choice but to sit stuck in traffic and watch my available hours tick away.


“As ATRI’s study shows, with flexibility in the HOS, I could choose to rest during the worst congested times and make my delivery schedules with less time behind the wheel.”


Just recently, the FMCSA opened public comment on its potential changes of the HOS rules.



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