Hours of Service Rules for Commercial Drivers Reduced
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently announced a final rule that changes hours of service (HOS) safety provisions for commercial truck drivers. Safety advocates had requested changes for some time as accidents involving driver fatigue and distracted driving were prominent news stories in 2011.
According to numerous reports, the final rule reduces the maximum number of hours a truck driver can work within a week to 70 hours. Under the old rule, truck drivers could work up to 82 hours within a seven-day period. The rule also prohibits drivers from driving more than eight hours at a time without taking a break of at least 30 minutes. Drivers may take this break at any time during the eight hour window. Additionally, drivers may not drive more than 11 hours each day.
The rule also requires drivers who maximize their weekly allotment of work hours to take at least two nights of rest between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Drivers may also restart their work week by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off. This restart provision may only be used once during a seven-day period.
Safety advocates still believe that the new rule is insufficient in combating driver fatigue, especially the daily driving limit, which was largely unchanged. Ed Slattery, of the Truck Safety Coalition, explained to TheHill.com that 70 hour work weeks still exceed the average American’s work week by 30 hours, and that the dangers to other drivers remains unabated.
Likewise, the retail industry revealed its disappointment with the changes. The Retail Industry Leaders Association noted that the new regulation would increase the cost of moving goods by truck, and increase highway congestion by putting more trucks on the road at the same time.
Commercial drivers and trucking companies must comply with the rule beginning July 1, 2013.