Hours of Service Best Practices for Drivers and Shippers
A carrier arrives to pick up a load in the afternoon with only a few available hours left before he or she needs to take a 10 hour rest break. The loading facility has been running behind all day and takes much longer than anticipated to load the truck. By the time the paperwork is done and the driver is ready to go, the driver is “out of hours” and significantly into the 10 hour required rest period. The loading facility has a strict no overnight policy and asks the driver to leave. The driver refuses, reiterating that the facility is asking him to violate hours of service regulations.
Some variation of this scenario is happening with more increasing frequency across the country. What is the best way to resolve this situation?
Both parties may be technically “in the right”—the driver is out of hours, the loading facility can’t let the truck stay overnight, and there is risk for both parties that something could go wrong should they bend on their policy. If the loading facility allows the carrier to stay, especially overnight if no one is at the facility, a number of things could go wrong. If the carrier is stopped by law enforcement, there is a risk that he or she gets the book thrown at him or her for violating hours of service regulations. While there is no perfect way to handle this situation, here are some best practices that can be used to diffuse and mitigate the risks involved in this situation:
- Drivers and shippers should remain calm and work together for a solution rather than dig in their heels that they have the superior legal standing.
- Drivers can use the “personal conveyance” exemption for a trip to the very nearest possible place to rest safely. They can offer to do that, but should express to the shipper the need to make sure their trip is short.
- Drivers should communicate that if they move from the facility, they could be violating hours of service regulations and would like some assistance or evidence to provide enforcement personnel proof that they attempted to rest in place but were not able to because they were on private property.
- Shippers should know where the closest place to legally rest is for drivers and provide a map or directions to that location with estimated travel times.
- Shippers should offer to provide the carrier a time stamped note regarding the situation that carriers can use to demonstrate that they legitimately were on “personal conveyance” and had communicated to the shipper that they were out of hours. While a note is not legally required, it may provide drivers a level of reassurance and proof they can use should they be stopped by enforcement.
- Shippers and receivers should consistently enforce their polices on these matters, regardless of who is running the dock that shift. Policies should also be clearly displayed in a location where drivers can easily see them.
- Drivers and shippers should proactively work together to establish a viable solution as soon as the issue is identified. It is much better to have a conversation about it an hour or two before a driver’s time expires than it is to wait until the last minute.
While shippers should always keep loading times consistent, unexpected delays do occur. By working together, rather than against each other, all parties in the supply chain can safely solve the increasing number of policy related conflicts that are occurring. What are some other policies that seem to frequently conflict with one another? What are some hours of service best practices you use to resolve the conflict?