Since the new hour of service rules took effect on July 1, drivers aren’t feeling any more rested, but productivity has taken a hit, according to one of the largest truckload carriers in the U.S.
Since the rules were implemented, Schneider National says it has seen just over a 3 percent drop in productivity on solo shipments and a 4.3 percent decline on team shipments.
“The hours of service changes could not have come at a worse time,” said Dave Geyer, senior vice president/general manager of Schneider’s Van Truckload division, in a company statement. “We now need more drivers to do the same amount of work, but regulations, economic conditions and demographics are working against us in terms of recruiting new drivers. We’re being restricted in the number of miles we can give them and the ongoing challenges that come with sharply rising operating costs.”
But while productivity has been impacted, safety has not, adds Geyer.
“Safety performance dramatically improved under the previous hours of service rules and there is no evidence to support that changing the rules has improved safety,” said Geyer.
“Ongoing feedback from our drivers is consistent, they do not feel better rested as a result of the rules change, just less productive.”
According to Schneider, driver turnover is trending up and is back at pre-recession levels due to regulatory pressures drivers face, such as the new hours of service rules.
Schneider cited a recent research brief by John Larkin, managing director of Stifel Transportation & Logistics Research Group, stating regulations such as HOS create a challenging driver market. “Virtually all of the proposed federal rules and regulations either reduce the size of the driver pool or reduce the productivity of the drivers remaining in the pool,” he noted. “As a result, drivers remain a scarce input.”
Carriers and drivers aren’t the only ones adjusting to the changes, said Schneider. Many shippers are indicating carriers across the industry, as well as their own private fleets, are already experiencing productivity and on-time service declines.
“To put it in the simplest of terms, capacity continues to tighten, productivity has been reduced and it’s harder and more costly than ever to acquire and retain drivers,” said Geyer. “This trifecta is a cost burden that carriers cannot bear alone.”