Following closely on the heals of new rest rules for commercial pilots, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) set new hours-of-service (HOS) requirements for commercial truck drivers. Some groups aren’t happy about the new rules.
Here are the highlights of the new HOS rules:
- The maximum number of hours a truck driver can work within a week are reduced by 12 hours from 82 to 70.
- Truck drivers can’t drive after working 8 hours without first taking a break of at least 30 minutes. Drivers can take the 30-minute break whenever they want during the 8-hour window.
- The current 11-hour daily driving limit stays the same.
- Each week, drivers must take at least two nights’ rest which include the hours from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
- Drivers can restart their weekly clock after a t least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.
Trucking companies that allow drivers to exceed the 11-hour driving limit by 3 or more hours could be fined $11,000 per offense. Drivers could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.
The rules take effect July 1, 2013. Some of the new requirements were relaxed compared to those that were proposed after comments from trucking companies.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), which represents small-business and professional truckers, says the one-size-fits-all policy won’t improve safety.
The OOIDA calls for more flexibility in the regulations. “Compliance with any regulation is already a challenge because everyone else in the supply chain is free to waste the driver’s time loading or unloading with no accountability,” said OOIDA Executive VP Todd Spencer. He predicts the new rules will have a “dramatic effect on the lives and livelihoods of small business truckers.”
On the other hand, the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) called the unchanged daily limit “dangerous.” A statement released by the organization said the new rules wouldn’t come close to addressing the problem of fatigue among truck drivers. The TSC said 70 hours per week is still too many for truckers to work.
The revised policy was needed because of a lawsuit brought by TSC, Public Citizen and other groups against relaxed HOS rules placed in effect during the Bush administration in 2003. The lawsuit was settled in 2009 with a promise to revisit the rules.
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