On the first day of July 2013, the new hours-of-service regulations will begin, affecting thousands of drivers across the nation. The new rule by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revises the hours-of-service (HOS) safety requirements for commercial truck drivers. It was created to reduce both acute and chronic fatigue by limiting the maximum number of hours per day and week that the drivers can work.
“This final rule is the culmination of the most extensive and transparent public outreach effort in our agency’s history,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro in a press release. “With robust input from all areas of the trucking community, coupled with the latest scientific research, we carefully crafted a rule acknowledging that when truckers are rested, alert and focused on safety, it makes our roadways safer.”
The rule requires truck drivers who maximize their weekly work hours to take at least two nights’ rest when their 24-hour body clock demands sleep the most – from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. This rest requirement is part of the rule’s “34-hour restart” provision that allows drivers to restart the clock on their workweek by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.
Drivers can take the 30-minute break whenever they need rest during the eight-hour window. The final rule retains the current 11-hour daily driving limit. It reduces by 12 hours the maximum number of hours a truck driver can work within a week. Under the old rule, truck drivers could work on average up to 82 hours within a seven-day period. The new HOS final rule limits a driver’s workweek to 70 hours. In addition, truck drivers cannot drive after working eight hours without first taking a break of at least 30 minutes.
The rule limits the use of the “34-hour restart” to once a week, or 168 hours. If restarts are taken every 6 days, alternating 14 hours on-duty and 10 hours off, a driver would reach 70 hours in less than 5 full days. After a 34-hour break, the driver could then begin this same cycle again, totaling 70 hours on-duty every 6 calendar days, for an average of almost 82 hours per calendar week. The purpose of the restart rule would be to limit excessive buildup of on-duty hours.
According to the FMCSA, companies and drivers that violate the rule could face the maximum penalties for each offense. Trucking companies that allow drivers to exceed the 11-hour driving limit by 3 or more hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.
Are you prepared for the new HOS regulations? What do you think of them? Give us your input in the comments!