It has been about two weeks since the new set of driving rules went into full gear for truckers and trucking companies regarding the updated Hours-of-Service (HOS). The rules were announced 18 months ago in December 2011, but were not officially put into effect until July 1, 2013. The early introduction was so companies and drivers had time to adopt the new hours.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s news release, only about 15% of the truck driving work force will be affected because of their extreme schedules. The other 85% of the work force will see no changes.
The reason for the change was that The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) wanted to see a decrease in the number of deaths caused by fatigued drivers of large trucks and buses. Ann Ferro, the head of FMCSA, says in an NPR online news article, “At the core of that rule is a tremendous amount of research about how fatigue contributes to our ability to be alert and how chronic fatigue undermines and operator’s ability to run safely.”
“The big accidents that happen [are] because the driver was up for 36 hours straight,” Ferro continues. “Your brain can’t handle that.”
The updated Hours-of-Service (HOS) Regulation was put in place to ensure drivers are getting the proper amount of rest while on the road. As a result, the amounts of driver fatigue-related deaths and accidents should decrease.
New Trucker Driving Rules
- The maximum weekly driving time has been reduced to 70 hours, down from the previous 82 hour maximum work week (which equates to about a 15% reduction in hours);
- There must be a 30-minute break during the truck driver’s first eight hours of a shift, and;
- All truck drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving within a week may resume after resting for 34 consecutive hours. It must include two periods from 1-5 a.m. This allows the drivers to rest and catch up on their necessary sleep.
In addition to minimizing accidents and saving lives, the Department of Transportation insists the news rules will also save money. In 2009, large truck and bus accidents cost about $20 billion. That cost is associated with medical and insurance costs, lost wages and productivity, and infrastructure damage.
On the other hand, it is going to require more drivers to move the same amount of goods, causing an increase in the trucking industry’s cost. When shipper’s costs go up, prices may also go up. This is something that even the end consumer will feel.
With an increase of truckers on the highway, everyone on the road needs to use caution to avoid accidents. After all, rest and accident prevention are the main goals behind the new regulatory change.
There are strict penalties in place if these new rules are not followed. Fines of $11,000 per offense will be issued if a trucking company or passenger carrier allows drivers to go beyond the maximum limit by more than 3 hours. Even the drivers could face fines up to $2,750 per offense.
Are you one of the 15% of drivers affected by the new rules? For more information, check out the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s HOS summary.