Everything Your Fleet Needs to Know about Hours of Service (HOS)

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Hours of service, or HOS, can be tricky for fleets to manage, especially with regulation changes and tricky rules like sleeper berth provisions. But these regulations are some of the most important for fleets. Drivers are on the road nearly 60 hours a week, with inconsistent schedules and many types of distractions. One of the most detrimental effects is drowsy driving, which results in an average 328,000 accidents per year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

It’s facts like these that alter safety regulations and spark the creation of legislations such as the ELD mandate. This mandate by the FMCSA ensures that fleets are held accountable for the safety of their drivers and others on the road by requiring the implementation of ELD devices in all fleet vehicles.

ELD devices make it impossible to alter HOS logs—a common problem in the past. They also make it easier for fleets to avoid DOT violation fines and reduce the amount of paperwork drivers and administrators need to contend with. With such a big change, in an industry notorious for being technologically behind, there are a lot of questions. To untangle some of the confusion, read on. You’ll find everything you need to know about managing and tracking hours of service in your fleet below.

What are the Hours of Service Rules?

No one truly knows what sparked the first HOS Rules, but most widdle it down to the era they emerged from. It was a time filled with public outcry for more regulations to protect workers, especially during and after the Great Depression. Labor unions were also on the rise during that time. No matter how it started, it’s important to note there’s been very little change since the first regulations in 1935. After the passing of these regulations, drivers were able to work a cumulative 12 hours within a 15-hour period. There must be 3 cumulative hours of breaks and 9 hours of rest between shifts. There was also a cap of 60 hours on the road within a 7-day period.

Hours of service rules today were created in 2012 and implemented in 2018. There isn’t much difference between the original regulations and those of today. Drivers are now regulated to 11 hours within a 14-hour period. They must have a break every 8 hours and at least 10 hours between shifts. There are also sleeper berth provisions that provide drivers and fleet managers with more scheduling flexibility.

What are ELD Devices?

To ensure drivers and fleet managers remain compliant with these regulations, they must implement telematics or ELD devices into all vehicles. It’s the largest change to any regulation across the fleet industry. It’s also the most vital change and one that ensures accountability with more success than any other measure before. It’s been proven that inspections were not enough and it’s hard to ensure that numbers aren’t altered. Plus, paper logs are much more difficult to manage and even more difficult to ensure you don’t go over HOS limits while you’re out on the road.

ELD devices solve both of these problems by monitoring vehicle diagnostics in real-time. The devices then relay that information via satellite and cloud-based technology. It syncs with fleet management software to provide both drivers and managers accurate readings of vehicle issues, handling, idling, and run time. This software compiles this data in a central database where it is analyzed to create alerts, utilization reports, HOS logs, and more.

General Guidelines for Hours of Service Rules

One of the most challenging things about hours of service rules is there are slightly different rules between passenger-carrying fleets and cargo-carrying fleets. There are also differences in regulations between service areas and national fleets. To make matters worse, these rules and regulations will even vary state to state. You’ll notice this difference immediately with weigh stations across the country where most inspections of HOS compliance take place. You don’t have to stop at weigh stations in every state and the weight requirements may be different from place to place. Because of the lack of uniformity, there can be a little confusion. However, there are some general guidelines you can follow. While you must know the regulations that apply to your fleet, sticking true to the following can help ensure you remain compliant at all times.

Here are the guidelines:

  • All drivers must have 10 hours between shifts
  • Drivers may only work 60 hours per 7-day period; but drivers may work up to 70 hours within an 8-day period
  • Drivers are limited to 11 hours of driving within a 14-hour period
  • Drivers must take a minimum of 30 minutes off-duty after an 8-hour driving period
  • A reset of hours occurs after 34 hours of consecutive rest; a new work week begins from that point
  • All hours must be logged in real-time

It’s important to note there are exceptions to the guidelines above:

  • The 16-hour exemption: Drivers may work 16 consecutive hours if they only work one day a week. If so, they must begin and end their route at the same location.
  • The 30-minute break exemption: Short-haul drivers that work within a 150 mile radius are exempt from this rule.
  • Adverse driving conditions exemption: The 11-hour driving limit may extend to 13 hours in adverse conditions. The driver can’t have known about these conditions prior to their shift and they must still finish driving within a 15-hour period.
  • Emergency conditions exemption: HOS rules may be temporarily suspended in the case of a federal or state declared emergency.
  • Sleeper berth provision: This is less of an exemption and more a work around the rules. As part of the HOS, drivers must take 10 hours off-duty or in their sleeper berth between shifts. The new provision allows drivers to split these hours into a 2-hour break and an 8-hour break. It does not matter which you take first, so long as they are consecutive hours.

Hours of Service Violation Penalties

Failing to comply with hours of service rules can have a detrimental effect on your fleet. It’s nearly impossible to get away with failure to comply since all fleets face inspections—whether it be roadside, at a weigh station, or regulated annual inspections. This compliance failure may result in:

  • Placement out of service which may result in delivery delays.
  • ELD violation fines around $1,200 per day.
  • Additional CSA score points which could result in higher insurance premiums, a damaged reputation, and lost clientele.
  • Additional penalties for fleets that knowingly violate these regulations.
  • Complete shutdown of a carrier if penalties are severe and carriers don’t make efforts to resolve issues.
  • If a driver gets into an accident while having HOS overages, that driver may face jail time or cause the company millions in losses.

How to Avoid HOS Violations

Understanding HOS rules is the first step in avoiding violations. But it’s not enough for the fleet manager to know these rules. The entire fleet needs to know them as well. The next step is to ensure that you have an authorized ELD device in all of your fleet vehicles. After these initial steps, there are more comprehensive measures you can take.

Route Optimization

By optimizing your routes, drivers are taking the fastest path to their destination. This means they are less likely to miss their delivery times or overages in their hours of service. Also, by optimizing routes, you can preplan rest stops, gas refills, and sleep breaks. This means that both you and the driver know in advance the likelihood of hitting HOS targets.

Utilize exemptions

When you know the rules, it’s easier to work around them. For instance, if your drivers are nearing their 60 hours for the week, consider giving them 34 consecutive hours off before sending them on their next trip. You can also utilize the sleeper berth provision as a quicker solution while drivers are still on the road.

Fleet vehicle maintenance

It’s very common that vehicle down-time causes a domino effect of non-compliance with HOS provisions. Drivers may feel rushed to reach delivery times and therefore may miss their 30-minute break or drive overtime. Preventative maintenance allows you to make repairs before these become major issues with a lot of downtime. You should also consider shorter vehicle lifecycles, maintenance alerts, and more thorough DVIRs.

Telematics & fleet management software

Telematics devices are similar to ELDs, except they include more features such as route optimization, maintenance alerts and scheduling, fuel card integration, and more. They simply connect to your vehicle’s OBD-II port and then relay the real-time data from your vehicle’s engine to your fleet management software. You’ll not only receive accurate HOS logs, but you’ll also receive alerts to warn you when drivers approach limits. Fleet managers can also receive utilization and idling reports, as well as an easy-to-read dashboard with accurate real-time data that helps you make decisions about your fleet.

Learn more about fleet management software and telematics at Azuga.

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Fleet Dispatching

Dispatch software is a lifesaver when it comes to organizing your dispatch process and keeping operations streamlined. It offers a variety of features that make daily procedures so much easier, from fleet tracking to reports that help businesses make decisions. What features does dispatch software offer, and how do these features benefit fleets? We will break this down for you. 

Assign and Monitor Jobs

It is easy to assign and monitor jobs with dispatch software because it uses fleet tracking. Fleet tracking allows you to assign jobs to crews in the field. If you need a lead technician for a job, it’s simple to attach that lead tech to any job you need. You can even sort jobs based on their status, whether they’re one-time, recurring, or multi-day, or based on urgency. 

When workers finish jobs, they can mark the job as complete on their end. This way, you can know when each job concludes and when your technician moves on to their next task. 

Easier Communication

Back and forth calls between technicians and managers are no longer a problem. With dispatch software, you simply input the job you want your technicians to address. Your technicians access it from their phones and know what to do from there. When they’re done, they can mark it complete and view their next job right away. They can track their time, update their schedules, and input notes all while on the go. Everything you need to know will be on your screen when you need to know it, no need to track the information down. 

Improve Customer Service

Dispatch software can improve your business’s customer service reputation in a variety of ways. Firstly, GPS tracking allows for route optimization software, which gets your technicians to their destinations quickly and efficiently. No more late technicians making your customers wait. Furthermore, dispatch software allows you to assign technicians to customers they already know, building an improved relationship with your business. And with all of your customer information in one place, it’s easy to respond to disputes and issues in a timely and personal manner. 

All of your client and order information is available in a field service CRM that details everything you need to know about your customers and the jobs you’ve done for them. 

How to Get Dispatch Software

Azuga offers state-of-the-art dispatch software that your business is sure to benefit from every single day. These benefits will improve your fleet’s daily operations, boost customer service, and maximize productivity among your workers. These features and more bring your fleet to its maximum potential, allowing you to focus on making important decisions to help the business grow and thrive. Find out everything you can do with dispatch software by trying out a free demo today. You’re certain to be impressed with the improvements.

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Multi-Drop Route Planning

A multi-drop route planner is a process that plans a route for a driver to make more than two deliveries in multiple locations. It uses vehicle routing software to collect and analyze thousands of data points and determine the best delivery route. This route planning software can plan, re-route, and reschedule without causing any danger to the driver, environment, or business. It considers many factors, such as the number of distribution centers, warehouses, or residential areas a driver has to visit, resource availability, and driver safety. 

How Does Multi-Drop Route Planning Work? 

The route optimization software tracks the vehicle while factoring in when deliveries need to arrive. Of course, a human being should ensure that everything has been planned out properly, but the process should be automatic. Both this person and the system should look at distances, travel time, and fuel consumption. 

Once a route is set, the route optimization software compiles data to choose the best vehicle and driver depending on the delivery. It uses data based on the route and the client’s needs. At this point, it also considers the driver’s hours and weather conditions to determine how much time is needed. These systems need to work in real-time to ensure that managers and clients can connect with up-to-date information. 

Benefits of Multi-Drop Route Planning

There are various benefits to multi-drop route planning. It maximizes productivity, keeps fuel costs low, promotes driver safety, and helps businesses stay compliant with federal driver hour regulations. Your business will save money by using its drivers effectively and not using as much fuel. 

Where to Get Multi-Drop Route Planning Software

If you’re looking for this software, you don’t need to search any further! Azuga’s route optimization software allows for multiple stops. It provides the best routes based on historical data, traffic conditions, weather conditions, and machine learning that helps it create the best routes for you in real-time. See what you can do with route planning software by trying out a demo today!

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Fleet Dispatching

If you manage a fleet, you probably already understand the delicate dance that is fleet dispatching. If not, you may not realize just how crucial this process is to the success of any fleet-based business. 

What Is Fleet Dispatching?

Simply put, fleet dispatching is the process by which commercial fleet drivers are sent out into the field to make deliveries, service customers, and handle other business-related tasks. But it involves so much more than simply telling drivers, “you go there.” Good fleet dispatching may also involve considerations for traffic conditions, road hazards, driver skill sets, customer preferences, and onboard equipment. When done correctly, it’s a skillful juggling act that helps a business reach its daily goals. When poorly handled, it can be a disaster for all concerned.

What Is a Fleet Dispatcher?

A fleet dispatcher is a person in charge of scheduling and arranging dispatch for a commercial fleet. Small fleets may have a single dispatcher to manage all calls, while larger enterprise fleets may employ an entire team. 

A fleet dispatcher must clearly understand schedules and routes, job proficiencies, fuel management, fleet maintenance, and regulations related to hours of service and other fleet compliance issues. A good fleet dispatcher knows the drivers in the fleet well and can anticipate their scheduling needs and which jobs they are most suited to handle. Fleet dispatchers must be masters of communication and have elite organizational skills.

Fleet Dispatch Software from Azuga

Fleet dispatching is as much an art as a science, and it can be overwhelming at times. The best way to support the fleet dispatchers on your team is to give them tools and technology that make the job easier. Fortunately, Azuga offers the answers to all of your fleet dispatching conundrums

Our GPS Fleet Tracking software can keep track of all the vehicles in your fleet along with large equipment and other assets. Dispatchers can use this information to see which vehicles are nearby when a job pops up. What’s more, we offer top-notch route optimization tools to help guide drivers around road construction, accidents, and other hazards that might prevent them from getting to their destination on time. We can even help you schedule routine maintenance, promote road safety, and automatically deliver dispatch notifications to drivers in the field. 

Learn about all the ways Azuga Fleet can help your commercial fleet stay productive and efficient while simplifying maintenance schedules and creating a culture of safety on the road. Schedule an Azuga demo today!

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