Private carriers say how they handle wait time issues is key to determining the overall impact new hours of service (HOS) rules will have on their operations, according to several fleet managers.

“Managing a driver’s wait time will be critical to our success with the new rules,” said Ron Tartt, fleet manager for Nashville, TN-based tire maker Bridgestone/Firestone, in an interview with Fleet Owner. “From the way we run our routes now, we should see only minimal impact from the new regulations. But if our drivers get hung up at production plants, distribution centers, and stores, it will really affect us all,” he explained. “Everyone has to be on the same page and realize we can no longer tell a driver to wait to load or unload. More than ever, a driver’s time is extremely valuable.”

“I think companies that require a lot of non-driving activity from their drivers, such as loading and unloading, have a lot more at stake,” Gary Petty, president of the National Private Truck Council, told Fleet Owner. “Some are going to look for alternative ways to handle non-driving work, such as contracting with lumpers to perform loading and unloading tasks drivers used to do.”

Petty added that distribution centers, in particular, have to re-examine their work methods in light of the new rules. “Distribution centers can’t operate on bankers’ hours in what has become a 24/7 economy,” he said. “Drivers can’t be stacked up like airplanes outside their doors anymore in light of the new HOS rules. Those days are be numbered.”