precisely the age when many of them will be looking to choose a profession.
It should therefore not be very surprising when many of them choose a
different profession, one where they can actually work.
Licensure requirements are an important part of the government-failure
explanation for the truck driver shortage, but if that were the only problematic
set of regulations, the industry would likely be able to function reasonably
well. Far more distortionary are the government’s safety regulations, which
are numerous, complex, and often contradictory. Those safety regulations
might be helpful in correcting negative safety externalities associated with
having large trucks sharing the road with small cars, 51 but would likely cause
government failures if not narrowly tailored.
A prime example of how the government fails to narrowly tailor its
trucking regulations are its Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, which limit
when a driver may drive and for how long. In other words, HOS regulations
are a direct interference in the voluntary transactions between truck drivers
and their employers. The newest HOS rules began to take effect on February
27, 2012, with the remainder taking effect on July 1, 2013.52 Among the rules
implemented are the following:
11-hour driving limit: A driver may drive a maximum of 11 hours
after 10 consecutive hours off-duty, and may drive no more than 70
hours in a 7-day period; 53
14-hour limit: A driver may not drive beyond the 14th hour after
coming on duty, even if, because of off-duty time taken during those
14 hours, the driver has not reached the 11-hour limit; 54
Rest breaks: A driver may not drive more than 8 consecutive hours
without an off-duty period or sleeper berth period55 of at least 30
minutes; 56 and
60/70-hour limit: A driver may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty
during a 7/8 consecutive day period, and may only start a new 7/8
day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty. 57
51. But see Kidd, supra note 12, at 148–51 (describing the Coaseian argument that the
notion of “externalities” presupposes which party is wrong and hinders an efficient resolution
of disputes). See also Ronald Coase, The Problem of Social Cost, 3 J. L. & ECON. 1, 13–15
52. Summary of Hours and Service Regulations, U.S. DEP’T TRANSP., FED. MOTOR
CARRIER SAFTEY ADMIN. (Dec. 18, 2014) https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-
53. Down from 82-hours in a 7-day period under the previous rule. Id.
55. A sleeper berth period is one in which the driver rests in the sleeper berth—the living
space—of the truck.
57. Id. Originally, the “restart” provision required inclusion of two periods between 1