Over the Road Tandem Trucking – New Running Time Laws Mean More Downtime

Posted by Robert DeFeo on

New Hours of Service Regulations

In early 2018, a new federal mandate for truck drivers requiring truck drivers to use an electronic-logging device was added to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Hours of Service Regulations. The electronic-logging device automatically records the hours that truck drivers are working, which are sometimes referred to as the hours of service. For truck drivers, this automatic tracking ultimately makes it harder to “fudge” their total hours worked.  Before the implementation of the electronic logging device, rules limiting drivers to 11 hours of driving for every 14 hours on the road could easily be ignored or bent.  Without that flexibility, many truck drivers and logistic companies are finding that their service costs have increased and that net profit has decreased as result. Many drivers and logistic companies are now turning to tandem or team driving to help keep their costs lower.

tandem white semi trucks and sunset

With the addition of the electronic logging device amendment to hours of service rules, truck drivers can find themselves at risk for a major fine or even loss of their commercial driver’s license if they violate the new service rules. While the law was, of course, intended to create safer driving practices and less truck driver related accidents on the highways, it has perhaps done the opposite of what was intended.

The federal mandate has arguably resulted in unsafe practices, such as “racing against the clock” and other reckless driving habits, that ultimately drives up the costs of services due to the need for additional time in order to adhere to the stricter hours of service regulations for any given route. The use of “tandem trucking,” otherwise known as “team driving,” has become more prevalent so that truck drivers can adhere to the law while also keeping their costs down, reducing unsafe driving practices, while still earning the pay that they want. Having two truck drivers instead of the more typical solo driver allows drivers to complete routes at the same rate as before, all while adhering to the stricter regulations set forth by the FMCSA. Since this law was passed, the job market for team driving has exploded.

The Rise of Team Driving

Tandem or team driving essentially means that instead of one driver making a route with the usual interruptions for sleep or rest, two drivers will do so instead, with a rotating schedule of one truck driver sleeping while the other drives. The distinct advantage to this approach allows routes to be completed in a more timely manner, while still allowing each driver to get the rest they need to drive safely, thus preventing risky or dangerous driving habits in order to beat the clock. Naturally, this will require the tractor trailer to be equipped with more than just one mattress, such as a bottom and top bunk configuration, as there may be times when both drivers need to sleep at the same time or simply have two separate mattresses for each individual driver. Tandem driving might also make the most luxurious sleeper trailers feel cramped, so the level of comfort that each driver has is an important consideration.

In a tandem, team driving environment, the comfort of the drivers becomes even more important because there is at least one driver, at all times, who is trying to relax and enjoy downtime. The good news for tandem, team drivers is that there are many tractor trailer sleepers that come equipped with both top and bottom bunks. Some of the sleeper cabins are also spacious enough for a desk and a TV. Unfortunately, the mattresses that come with these bunks are not always comfortable, so it may be worth considering a replacement or upgrade for the factory mattress that comes with the tractor trailer sleeper. The last thing that should get in the way of good rest for a driver is an uncomfortable mattress.

The Best Semi-Truck Mattress

Unfortunately, the options and availability of quality mattresses for the top bunk in tractor trailer sleepers can be limited, unlike the options for a standard or bottom bunk. SleepDog® mattress is currently developing a high-quality top bunk mattress for tractor trailer sleepers that will better meet the comfort needs of drivers. SleepDog® mattresses are built for both solo or tandem and team truck drivers who want a reliable and comfortable sleeper mattress. Whether top or bottom bunk, SleepDog® mattresses are designed for maximum comfort with truck drivers in mind.