The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), Arlington, Va., released the results of a new analysis on the potential benefits of allowing commercial drivers additional flexibility when they take required hours of service (HOS) breaks. ATRI utilized empirical truck GPS data to model the application of split rest beyond the current 8- and 2-hour increments allowed under the existing HOS rules. Results found that drivers could spend less time and money driving the same distances behind the wheel.

ATRI's study utilized a congested 40-mile stretch of urban highway in Atlanta to quantify the operational impacts of congestion. The initial assessment using the truck GPS data showed that the time it took to traverse the corridor ranged from 40-90 minutes during rush hour, a more than doubling of driving time and related operational costs.

ATRI then modeled scenarios where a representative driver operated under the current HOS rules and a flexible 6/4 split rest time. Under the flexible hours, the driver was able to avoid congestion, and completed a 585-mile trip with 45 fewer minutes of drive time. Similar results were also found for 7/3 and 5/5 split scenarios.

When replicated across the industry, an estimated savings in annual drive time of more than 2.3 million hours could be realized with flexible HOS options, along with over $150 million in annual operational cost savings.