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Reducing Driver Fatigue: New Hours-of Service Now in Effect

In what can only be described as a very positive step in the right direction, new hours-of service guidelines for truck drivers came into effect at the start of this month. Issued by the US Department of Transportation, these new federal regulations are aimed at increasing road safety by reducing driver fatigue among professional truck drivers.

New Regulations Coming into Effect

The US DOT issued new guidelines back in December 2011, giving trucking companies 18 months to adopt new hours-of-service. These important safety regulations now limit the average workweek for truck drivers to 70 hours. The goal of the regulations is to ensure that truck drivers have sufficient rest to operate their vehicles in a safe way.

The Numbers of Reducing Driver Fatigue

According to the US DOT, only the most intense of work schedules will be effected by this new law; more than 85% of truck drivers will not be impacted by these changes. This statistic is hugely important: it makes it very clear than only those truck drivers and trucking companies that disregard safety standards in the selfish and greedy pursuit of money will fall afoul of these new regulations.

The FMCSA Administrator, Anne S. Ferro, issued a statement concerning the new regulations:

"These fatigue-fighting rule for truck drivers were carefully crafted based on years of scientific research and unprecedented stakeholder outrarch. The result is a fair and balanced approach that will result in an estimated $280 milion in saveing from fewer large truck crashes and $470 million in savings from improved driver health. Most importantly, it will save lives."

From what Ms. Ferro has said, it's clear that reducing driver fatigue is a win-win for everyone: truck drivers, trucking companies, emergency responders and of course, the motoring public.

The new rules, issued by the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), are as follows:

  • Limits the maximum average workweek for truck drivers to 70 hours, a decrease from the previous maximum of 82 hours;
  • Allows truck drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving within a week to resume is they rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two nights when their body clock demands sleep the most – from 1:00 am to 5:00 am, and;
  • Requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.

This new rule keeps the existing 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour workday.

Let’s hope that truck drivers and trucking companies embrace the spirit of these new regulations, supporting the measures for reducing driver fatigue. Safe roads and highways will be a great benefit to us all.

A Very Real Problem

The tragic case of Illinois State Trooper James Sauter is an all too vivid example of the dangers of operating beyond the regulated hours of service. Federal investigators have recently determined that the truck driver in that crash had been working for more than 14 hours when he crashed into and killed Trooper Sauter.

Let’s hope that truck drivers and trucking companies embrace the spirit of these new regulations, supporting the measures for reducing driver fatigue. Safe roads and highways will be a great benefit to us all.

The FMCSA’s full press release is online at http://fmcsa.dot.gov/about/news/news-releases/2013/fmcsa-40-13.aspx.