Regulations

Can Your Bus Driver Get There In 10 Hours?

Tom Holden
Posted on July 10, 2018
Since the 10-hour driving time is so valuable, remind your drivers to log off from the drive line as much as possible, especially when taking tour groups to multiple stops around cities. (LCT photo)
Since the 10-hour driving time is so valuable, remind your drivers to log off from the drive line as much as possible, especially when taking tour groups to multiple stops around cities. (LCT photo)

Now that ELDs are a vital part of fleet operations, it’s a bigger challenge to arrive at destinations in the same 10 hours you’re used to making it in. For motorcoach, charter, and tour operators, many trips that would have normally been ideal for a day are not possible now using only one driver.

Restricted Driver Schedules Result In More Traffic

Have you noticed more tractor-trailers sitting on the side of highway ramps? They're drivers are probably out of hours! That adds to more congestion. According to Google maps, a trip from Charlotte to Orlando takes about seven and a half hours. Truckrouter.com, an online truck routing and mileage software, shows the same trip as taking nearly nine hours.

Then you have to factor in traffic. Highway I-4, which bisects Central Florida, is under construction, which could add 45 minutes to your travel without it being rush hour. It’s unlikely you’d be able to make it in 10 hours.

According to Google maps, a trip from Charlotte to Orlando takes about seven and a half hours. Truckrouter.com, an online truck routing and mileage software, shows the same trip as taking nearly nine hours. (LCT image)
According to Google maps, a trip from Charlotte to Orlando takes about seven and a half hours. Truckrouter.com, an online truck routing and mileage software, shows the same trip as taking nearly nine hours. (LCT image)
We recently started using Truckrouter.com. It’s a great app that allows you to enter the type of vehicle you are driving (in this case, a bus), the length, weight, height, and even fuel mileage. It will keep you clear of low bridges or tunnels, and on the best roads for the vehicle you are driving. Let’s face it: I can drive my car from Charlotte to the Daytona race track in six hours. BUT that’s not a bus!

The added cost this year without recovery has not been good. Since you need to add a relay driver on this trip, you need to at least use the relay driver for one hour which really means four hours or so. That takes drivers out of your available pool, and needs much attention to detail for where and when you can reuse that relay driver.

Good Driver Compliance Practices

Since the 10-hour driving time is so valuable, remind your drivers to log off from the drive line as much as possible. Example: There was a driver touring around Washington, D.C. with a group making multiple stops throughout the day. Each time the driver would stop, she didn’t log off until all of the passengers were off the bus and she returned to her seat. Each time was exactly six minutes after stopping the bus. Multiply that by six or seven stops and that could easily add 45 minutes to your drive time.

These are typical driver’s logs using Saucon. The system is very clean and user friendly. It helps drivers and safety managers stay on top of hours worked. The Saucon ELD also enables inspectors to accurately review all records. (LCT image)
These are typical driver’s logs using Saucon. The system is very clean and user friendly. It helps drivers and safety managers stay on top of hours worked. The Saucon ELD also enables inspectors to accurately review all records. (LCT image)

The insert above is a typical driver’s log using Saucon, as I mentioned in the May 2018 issue of LCT. The system is very clean and user friendly. Our drivers and safety department are on top of our hours. Recently, eight of our buses had full level one inspections and ALL passed. It was easy for the inspector to operate and view all of the last seven days for each driver on the Saucon ELD.

Joe Guinn and Chris Przybylski of Limo and Bus Compliance presented a webinar on ELD exemptions with LCT in May. Maybe you are exempt, and it’s true — there are many small operators who don’t travel outside of the 100 air-mile radius of their own cities and never cross state lines. Companies in South Florida are a perfect example. If a driver does, then they can only do it eight times in a rolling 30 calendar. So, if you have many commercial vehicles and plenty of drivers, it may be easier to use an ELD system. If your driver drives multiple vehicle types, you must keep track of their hours of service.

For motorcoach, charter, and tour operators, many trips that would have normally been ideal for a day are not possible now using only one driver. (LCT image)
For motorcoach, charter, and tour operators, many trips that would have normally been ideal for a day are not possible now using only one driver. (LCT image)
What Are Your Added Expenses?

Picture this: You do 400 motorcoach jobs in one month, and most of them are out of town for multiple nights. Add to this late returns, early starts, traffic, accidents…you get the picture. Now you need a relay driver who was not planned because you couldn’t get to your destination in 10 hours. If that driver is only doing a one hour relay, that really adds up to four hours of pay. That comes pretty close to $100. About 20% of the 400 rides require relay drivers. That’s $8,200, correct? Where is that coming from? Not the client. You need to make it up the rest of the year. Look in this issue for a related article on the true cost of bus operations.

On another note, a full roadside inspection checklist was included in the May  issue of LCT…did you read it? Step 10 says to check the passenger area. This includes checking emergency exit access (i.e. window and roof hatches). Nowhere in any of the FMCSA books does it state if the inspector or driver can’t close a roof hatch after it was inspected and worked, the inspector can put your vehicle out of service. By the way, in one incident, the driver closed it moments after. The inspector still wrote an out of service violation with a $100 fine.

Since the hatch actually closed, the bus was able to leave. How crazy is that? Did you know if one brake light is out, you’ll get a write-up, but not be put out of service? If your wipers are not working, it’s a write-up, but not out of service as long as there’s no rain in the forecast.

There are so many regulations that one article simply can’t cover them all. I suggest you hire a consultant to help you with all of the curve balls being thrown. There are some great people out there willing to help; all you have to do is ask.

Related Topics: compliance, driver behavior, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, federal regulations, fleet management, motorcoach operators, motorcoaches, regulatory enforcement, Tom Holden

Comments ( 0 )
More Stories
The City of Chicago has implemented some of the strictest regulations in the industry that by all accounts was completely misguided despite repeated input from and meetings with members of the Illinois Limousine Association (ILA). (Creative Commons photo)
Article

Chicago Micromanages Party Buses

SEPT. LCT: Amid accidents, deaths, injuries, and skyrocketing insurance premiums, operators are chafing under a web of strict new rules.