Archive for category HOS

What if you had to break the law to keep your job?

By Jena Williams


Would you do it? Have you done it?

When questioned, many truck drivers will admit that they have when it comes to hours of service (HOS.) They know they’re at their limit, but dispatch tells them to keep going if they want to keep their job. What else can they do? What would you do?

Trucking company owners are generally operating on a shoe string. Staying in the black financially requires keeping customers and demanding consumers happy. Being late on a delivery is not an option. Or is it?

This article isn’t to debate HOS rules. That’s being done on the main stage by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and trucking industry stakeholders. This is to get us as a society to think about how we contribute to the problem.

Are we cutting off truck drivers and making their job harder and longer? Do we throw a fit if something we expect to be at the store isn’t there when we need it? Are we willing to give the driver that has already driven for 10 hours a day and maybe worked for 14 a break or will we continue to demand more?

In the comments, I’d like to hear your ideas on how we as a society can make the job of truck drivers easier. Truck drivers, dispatchers and owners – what are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments how we can help.

And for anyone out there who has never considered the value of all those trucks out on the road, here is a fantastic infographic to bring you up to speed: Truckpocalypse!

Does how you spend your time matter?

By Jena Williams

You’ve got 14 hours to get your job done. Does it really matter when you drive, when you load, or when you take your break? Maybe…

A recent article by Soccolich, et al., suggests that how a truck driver spends his or her time during the 14-hour workday can matter a lot when it comes to safety. And it may not be as you think.

Their research showed that drivers were safer if they drove at the start of their 14-hour shift rather than doing task work (such as loading or maintenance) outside the truck for a few hours and then driving. If there was task work that needed to be done, then those drivers that took a one-hour break before beginning their drive were just as safe as those who started driving at the beginning of the shift.

How did they learn this? By using naturalistic data collection (observing drivers perform their regular work), the researchers determined that the length of time spent driving, whether 8 hours or 11 hours, did not impact safety as much as whether or not they performed other work  before the drive.

To categorize relative safety, the researchers developed criteria of safety-critical events (SCE) ­– crashes, near-crashes, crash-relevant conflicts, and unintentional lane deviations – to gauge the safety of the work day. Using various cameras, they observed driver tasks and SCE to determine how timing of tasks impacted SCE.

New data, new perspectives, and new decisions to be made….In truth, this research may or may not impact federal regulations, especially since there is often controversy surrounding different forms of data collection. However, as an employer, the more you know about what contributes to incidents and injuries with your workforce, the more you can organize your work to mitigate risk.

Link to Soccolich article:

FMCSA: Summary of HOS regulations:

FMCSA: Interstate Truck Driver’s Guide to Hours of Service

14-Hour Driving Window

This window is usually thought of as a “daily” limit even though it is not based on a 24-hour period. You are allowed a period of 14 consecutive hours in which to drive up to 11 hours after being off duty for 10 or more consecutive hours. The 14-consecutive-hour driving window begins when you start any kind of work. Once you have reached the end of this 14-consecutive-hour period, you cannot drive again until you have been off duty for another 10 consecutive hours, or the equivalent of at least 10 consecutive hours off duty.

Your driving is limited to the 14-consecutive-hour period even if you take some off-duty time, such as a lunch break or a nap, during those 14 hours.

FMCSA approach to naturalistic data collection:

Citation: Soccolich, S.A., et al., An analysis of driving and working hour on commercial motor vehicle driver safety using naturalistic data collection. Accid. Anal. Prev. (2012),

Does payment type impact commercial vehicle safety on the roads?

By Jena Williams

Recently a Washington truck driver shared with me his belief that most collisions caused by truck drivers were the fault of those paid by percentage of revenue or load, rather than by the hour. He believes companies that do business this way are inherently more dangerous to work for and he will not work for this type of company.

Research shows and the Washington State Patrol agrees that the majority of commercial vehicle involved collisions are actually caused by other motorists. However, studies also confirm the truck driver’s theory that the collisions caused by commercial vehicles (including single vehicle incidents) are more likely to be caused by drivers who are paid by the trip or load.*

Why would paid by the load be more dangerous? In a report to the U.S. House of Representatives, Michael Belzer outlines the risks and cuts that drivers, especially independent owner/operators, must take to stay profitable in this competitive industry. Since they are not paid for time spent loading or unloading or waiting to deliver, their time must be made up on the road.

Now, it’s a fact that commercial drivers are safer than the general motoring public – the rate is 1.22 for large trucks in fatal crashes per 100 million vehicle miles verses 1.33 for passenger vehicles, so I’m definitely not putting down their skills. And what they do is absolutely vital to our economy….If you’ve got it, a truck brought it!

My goal is to find a way to make the job safer so you can come home to your families at the end of a run. Here we have an injury trend, a path to choose: one way we know is safer, the other way is more dangerous…Is the dangerous path worth the extra money? Should we as a society do something to make the safe path profitable? What is it that needs to be done?

So, what do we as an industry do about this? If we truly believe that the safety of drivers and other motorists is more important that the almighty dollar, should we change how things are done? Is even one life worth making a change?

Do any companies out there have success stories that they’d like to share?

What are driver’s experiences in relation to this issue?

What can be done to keep the industry profitable AND increase safety?

*Studies confirming payment type impacts the likelihood of collisions:

Monaco, K and Williams, E. “Assessing the Determinants of Safety in the Trucking Industry.” Journal of Transportation and Statistics. April 2000, p. 6.

Belzer, M. H. “The Economics of Safety: How Compensation Affects Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Safety.” Presented to United States House of Representatives Committee on Small Business, July 11, 2012.

Quinlan, M. and Wright, L. “Remuneration and Safety in the Australian Heavy Vehicle Industry: A Review Undertaken for the National Transport Commission.” Report Prepared for the National Transport Commission, Melbourne, October 2008.

Info for passenger vehicles:

FMCSA Share the Road:


Fatality data per million miles driven: