Safety and OSHA News

Truckers’ hours of service to change yet again

A year ago, the federal government announced new hours-of-service rules for commercial vehicle drivers. Now there’s word that they’re about to change again.

In a court settlement with Public Citizen, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has agreed to reissue the rules. Public Citizen and other groups had filed a lawsuit contesting the regulations.

Under FMCSA’s Nov. 19, 2008 Final Rule on Hours of Service for Drivers, driving hours expanded from 10 to 11  hours within a 14-hour window. Drivers could also restart their weekly on-duty limits after having at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.

Public Citizen and other groups claimed that commercial drivers would be less safe if they were allowed to drive more hours per week.

FMCSA has agreed to propose a new rule no later than July 2010. The agency has also agreed to publish a final rule by July 2011.

The court settlement is online here (PDF).

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  • Jimmy Bellamy

    Please leave the hours expanded, you must let working people make a honest living. Please remember that the only reason they are out there busting their hump is to put food on the table. Let them work.

  • Rick

    Public Citizen and other groups claimed that commercial drivers would be less safe if they were allowed to drive more hours per week.

    ARLINGTON, Va., July 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The number of truck-involved
    traffic fatalities declined 12 percent in 2008, dropping from 4,822 in 2007 to
    4,229, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said last week.

    “This achievement is great for all highway users,” said Bill Graves, President
    and CEO of the American Trucking Associations (ATA). “We must build upon this
    and look toward long-term improvements. The trucking industry remains
    committed to safety and ATA will continue to advance its aggressive safety
    agenda in an effort to further this outstanding trend.”

    In addition to a 12 percent reduction in crash fatalities involving large
    trucks, the number of truck occupant deaths decreased 16 percent in 2008, from
    805 in 2007 to 677. The overall number of people killed in motor vehicle
    crashes in the United States decreased 9.7 percent from 41,259 in 2007 to
    37,261 in 2008, the lowest level since 1961.

    Programs dedicated to increasing the use of safety belts, coupled with new
    hours-of-service regulations, which took effect in 2005, have greatly improved
    highway safety. The truck-involved fatality rate is now at its lowest since
    the U.S. Department of Transportation began keeping those statistics in 1975.

    If truck accidents are declining, and truck related deaths are declining after 4 years of the new hours of service rules, how can anyone claim that it is now more dangerous? Looks to me like it has worked very well.

  • LEU

    Here is another example of the Nobama admin. caving in to the unions and public interest groups. The past several years have brought a decrease in number of truck fatalities and accidents – yet these groups can’t be satisfied with progress, nor have they shown that hours of service are mostly responsible for the accidents.
    More hope and change we can believe in.

  • Janie Martin

    The data Rick quotes above is only meaningful if it is adjusted for equal number of trucks on the road in hours. Was the number of hours the same? If so the decline means something. Otherwise it might mean there were more accidents in fewer trucking hours.

  • http://SAFETYNEWSLETTER MIKE BERTALOT

    AFTER HAVING DRIVEN OVER-THE-ROAD AS AN OWNER-OPERATOR FOR TWENTY YEARS, I AM NOW THE SAFETY DIRECTOR OF A LONG HAUL TRUCKING COMPANY. THIS PROBABLY GIVES ME A GREATER LEVEL OF EXPERTISE THAN THE MAJORITY OF THOSE WHO ARE FILING LAW SUITS AGAINST THE H.O.S. – PUBLIC CITIZEN AND CRASH INCLUDED. I CAN VERIFY THAT THE SINGLE GREATEST IMPROVEMENT IN FATIGUE REDUCTION WAS THE 34 HOUR RESTART. THE 11 HOUR DRIVING SHIFT IS A MINIMAL CHANGE AND NOT A FACTOR. IT ALLOWS THE DRIVER AND THE COMPANY AN EXTRA CUSHION TO GET THE JOB DONE. SHOULD WE BAN OVER-TIME BEYOND 8 OR 10 HOURS IN INDUSTRIAL PLANTS OR OFFICES? THOSE PEOPLE DRIVE HOME AFTER THEIR 12 HOUR SHIFTS. SHOULD THEY BE SHUT DOWN BACK AT THEIR JOBS? WITH THESE RECENT LAWSUITS AND THE COURT’S DECISION IN FAVOR OF YET ANOTHER REVIEW, WE’RE REACHING A POINT BEYOND THE LEVEL OF PRACTICALITY. FURTHER REDUCTIONS IN HOURS ABLE TO BE DRIVEN DRIVES ANOTHER NAIL INTO THE ABILITY OF THE INDUSTRY TO ATTRACT NEW DRIVERS WILLING TO SACRIFICE TIME AWAY FROM HOME FOR INCREASED INCOME. PRODUCTIVITY EQUALS PROFIT FOR THE COMPANY, INCOME FOR THE DRIVER AND LOWER COSTS FOR THE CONSUMER. MAYBE INSTEAD OF FIGHTING FATIGUE WE NEED TO BEGIN FIGHTING STUPIDITY WHICH PROBABLY CAUSES MORE FATALITIES THAN FATIGUE EVER DID. WE CAN START WITH THE MEMBERS OF PUBLIC CITIZEN AND OTHERS OF THEIR ILK.

  • Ed Piere

    Like Mike above I moved about from company driver to owner-operator with 25 years doing over the road, and now I’m a Safety Director for a irregular route carrier. While I was driving we had the 10/15/70 rule. That was 10 hours to drive 15 hours on duty and 70 hours 8 day week. The rules that we have now 11/14/70. 11 hours driving 14 hours on duty and if a company choose to 70 hour 8 day week. There really has not been much of a change except if a person has 34 or more hours off you get to restart your 70 hour clock. In the factories-manufacturer industry or the office personal wrtten limits on hours people working double shifts then driving home. Upper management putting 8 or 10 hours in the office then takes a customer out and entertain for another 2 to 4 hour having a few drinks and drives home. Do any of these have to verfiy that they had 10 hours off and 8 hour of the 10 in bed before getting up and going back to work. If these organizations are concern about highway safety they need to do one thing, LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE! that is everyone on the highways. For those with driving license it is a privilege to have one and a with that come responsiblities, it’s not just drivers with CDL license.

  • Steve

    I also spent many years driving. Fatigue is huge but I agree with Ed & Mike. The 34 restart is needed as it helps with fatigue mental & physical creating a safer more aware driver for a long haul, long hour day. The 10 – 11 hour change is minimal. But, as stated, ALL drivers have to be responsible. Many “civilians” take one long trip a year and decided to drive their family straight through to Disney World from Chicago! Regulations are needed to keep things safe and to keep the playing field level, over regulating will cycle backwards. Driver’s make less, the career becomes less appealing, price of delivered goods will rise and this all contributes to a decline in the standard of living for everyone.
    Take the money invested into this legislation and use it to fix the roads that damage equipment and cause accidents.

  • Cindy

    My sentiments exactly Mike and Ed. My drivers need the work and are happy, safe drivers. I can’t say that for the rest of my crews…..

  • Chuck

    What ever happened to the “if it’s not broke don’t try to fix it”? Look at the the facts– (1) seven out of ten accidents involving a big truck are caused by the 4-wheeler. (2) Fatal accidents involving big trucks have decrease every year during the present HOS rules. (3) there is no law concerning the hours that a person can drive a non-CMV nor is there a licencing method for re-qualifying the elderly.

    IF fatigue is really a concern make every motorized vehicle regardless of size/type prove that they are alert enough to operate a motorized vehicle by installing a tamperproof device in which the operator must key in a randomly selected word, phrase, or number. They used to have such devices on repeat DUI offenders. Not only would this work for the person who is overly tired (regardless of how many hours they’ve worked), but would also be affective for those who are suffering from sudden illness, intoxicated, or too feble to drive.