Changes to Hours-of-Service Rules Help Combat Chronic Fatigue and Safeguard the Public

Chronic fatigue is a concern for any driver, but especially for a truck driver who is operating an 80,000-pound semi-trailer. When truckers become fatigued from excessive work hours, they are at substantially more risk for a truck crash resulting in severe injuries or even death. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that more than 750 people die and 20,000 are injured every year as a direct result of truck driver fatigue.

Because of these sobering statistics, the FMCSA amended the hours of service regulations that govern commercial vehicle operators to reduce the maximum hours a driver can work in a day or week. The amendment changes the use of the restart period to reduce the maximum allowable hours of work per week to 70.

What Are the New Hours of Service Rules?

The new rules, which became effective on July 1, 2013, are designed to prevent fatigue-related crashes and include the following provisions:

  • Drivers who have been on duty for eight hours are required to take a 30-minute rest period to eat, sleep, exercise, or make personal phone calls. They must be at liberty to pursue activities of their own choosing—not filling out paperwork, loading or unloading the truck, or taking care of some other trucking-related responsibility.
  • Drivers may only drive for 11 consecutive hours and must clock out after 14 hours on duty.
  • After being on duty for more than 60 hours in a 7-day period or 70 hours in an 8-day period, drivers must have a 34-hour rest period that contains two consecutive days between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.  This creates an artificial weekend and ensures that the driver has two days to catch up on REM sleep.

Truck drivers who violate the hours or service rules pose a safety risk to everyone around them and can face civil penalties of up to $2,750 per offense. Companies who allow their drivers to violate the rules by more than three hours may be fined $11,000 per offense.

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