The Hours of Service (HOS) changes expected July 1st will drastically impact the supply chain in the US.  Many companies are putting off preparing for the changes as they expect the rules to be deferred.  This wait and see approach has been effective in the past, as Hours of Service (HOS) rules have been known to be delayed or modified over and over again.  Now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the enforcement delayed.  But I would be surprised for it to be suspended.  When groups sued over the rollout of CSA 2010 (well, it was CSA 2010 at the time), the FMCSA made some changes to the program and then proceeded to roll it out with the caveat of: we can change it later.

So worst case scenario, the new HOS rules rollout July 1st with no changes.  Best case scenario, it rolls out much later.  Regardless, carriers need to prepare.  Most have already spent time looking at their current operations and looking at ways to become more efficient.  Many are looking to hire new drivers, update routes, and have begun discussions with shippers/brokers to discuss new timetables and expectations.  What are the downsides?  Hiring new drivers, making sure old drivers don’t fall into old habits, and opening discussions with shippers and brokers.

How with these new rules affect CSA? 

If you’re hiring new drivers, you’ll need to make sure they have a good history under CSA.  You’ll have to manage and monitor a larger number of drivers for the same book of business.  You’ll also be updating routes and schedules for your existing driver pool.  Adapting to these new rules will not just be your organization but also your drivers.  There will be a rough patch in which drivers will be driving beyond the allowed limit or during their restricted hours of 1am and 5am.  Not because they aren’t good, safe drivers, but because changing several years of behavior doesn’t happen overnight.   Don’t be surprised to see your HOS BASIC go up.

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The HOS BASIC is still the most common BASIC to have in the “Alert” status.  If several fleet’s HOS BASIC start to creep up, and if yours is one of them, shippers/brokers/insurers will start to take notice.  Shippers and brokers are already anticipating a capacity crunch due to the HOS rules and have begun sourcing new fleets and strengthening their internal rules for qualifying carriers.  This could mean the relationships that you’ve cultivated over the years are on shaky ground due to higher BASICs.

Ultimately, the question is, are you prepared for the HOS changes?  Preparing for the HOS changes won’t just be hiring a few new drivers and updating schedules.  It’ll require an organizational shift.  Don’t let it cost you more than it has to.  Start by bringing down you HOS BASICs in anticipation that you may have issues in July.  If you’ve been planning on using EBOR’s down the line, here’s the line.  Begin monitoring your existing driver pool.  Start checking how a prospective driver looks under CSA.  Focus on new inspections and violations as they come in from the FMCSA.  Manage a larger driver pool and push CSA down the chain of command.  If your BASICs do go up, we have the IQLab to help you focus on what you need to do to get back below the intervention threshold.  Or, put your best foot forward to your shippers and brokers.  Doing this now will save you hassle down the road regardless of when the HOS ruling take effect.