Despite the potential hardships posed by the new hours of service (HOS) rules poised to go into effect January 1, some find they have opened a positive dialog between the government and trucking on what has been and remains a very contentious issue.

"The best thing about these rules is what's not written in there," said David McCorkle, chairman of Oklahoma City-based McCorkle Truck Line.

McCorkle told Fleet Owner that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's new HOS rules are also far better than the agency's first attempt at HOS reform in 2000.

"The previous proposal really didn't get at the issue of sleep management for drivers, the ability to rest when they are tired and drive when they are rested," he noted.

McCorkle, who also serves as chairman of the American Trucking Assns.' HOS committee, added that the industry needs to use these new rules as a "jumping off point" to help develop "real world" sleep management programs for drivers.

"The real issue is that government can't legislate a driver to sleep or a truck to stop," he said. "Weather, traffic conditions, and whether parking is available all affect when drivers can stop and get their rest. These rules give us at least a place to start now."