Should You Control a Driver’s Hours of Service as a Truck Dispatcher?
Today we’ll discuss drivers’ hours of service and if you, as an independent truck dispatcher, should control them. In our course, we are briefly discussing hours of service.
Hours of service describe how many hours a driver can drive, what kind of breaks they have to take, and so on. At some point, you may wonder, “Well, how can I access their electronic logs to see how many hours they have left to run any particular load?”
And while technically, as long as your client is willing to provide it, you could get access to the ELD records and see how many hours a driver has to drive, it is my opinion that you shouldn't.
Why You Shouldn’t Control Your Client’s Hours of Service
Put simply, your client, as a licensed motor carrier, is liable and responsible for compliance and safety of their operations. You, as an independent truck dispatcher, are not.
Your client will have to go through DOT audits, and you will not. So, there is no need for you to tell your client how they should or should not run. If you do, you will be taking on certain unnecessary liabilities. For example, if you tell your client you believe they still have enough hours to run a load to delivery, and an accident happens, you may be responsible and have to deal with the consequences.
So, in my opinion, you should not get involved with this. If your client tells you he doesn't have enough hours, that means he just doesn't have enough hours. And all you have to do is reschedule the load, cancel it, or book a new one. You have to go with what your client is telling you.
There Are a Few Exceptions
As is the case with everything, there are exceptions. In this case, there are two of them.
1. You’re not just dispatching; you’re a motor carrier.
If you're dispatching your own trucks, you are logically responsible for your own hours of service. This means you can watch them and make the decisions that you find most suitable. But in this case, you are not acting as an independent truck dispatcher; you are acting as a motor carrier.
2. You are working as an employee for the motor carrier.
Large trucking companies have dispatchers whose job is to optimize and squeeze every last minute out of each driver's driving time. They're paid for that, trained for it, and do whatever is within their company’s guidelines. But then again, they are not independent truck dispatchers. They do not serve their clients. They are employees and follow the guidelines of their employers.
So Then, How Do You Plan Loads?
As we discuss in our Truck Dispatcher Course, if you do not have access to the hours of operation for your client, you can still plan loads. It's very simple. All you have to do is pick up the phone, call your client and ask.
If you have a load that picks up at one time and delivers at another time, all you have to do is to ask your client, “Hey, can you run this load? Do you have enough time? Do you feel comfortable with it?”
If they tell you yes, that’s fantastic! They know best. Again, they are responsible for their hours of service, safety and compliance. So, if they're telling you that they're good, that is fine, so go ahead and book the load.
If they tell you that they don't think they can make it, either do not book a load, try to reschedule, look for another, or cancel the one you already booked.
So once again, while you can get access to your client's hours of service in certain situations, you probably shouldn't. You should just find out what your client is comfortable with, how many hours they have left, or how many hours they want to run and go with that because your ultimate goal is to serve your client.
© By Roman Shmundyak November 2022
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