Today's News / Compliance / Transportation Safety

Feds cut hours truckers can work

December 22, 2011
KEYWORDS driver / drivers / final / hours / truck
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drivingThe U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced a final rule aimed at preventing fatigue-caused truck crashes by reducing the maximum number of hours a truck driver can work within a week.

The revision of hours-of-service (HOS) safety requirements comes despite opposition from the truck industry and Republican lawmakers, who said the industry had already improved its safety record and that the bill would be too costly. The rule cuts the total number of hours a driver can work with a week to 70 -- down from a previous average of 82.

The rule will prohibits drivers from driving after working eight hours without first taking a break of at least 30 minutes. Drivers can take the 30-minute break whenever they need rest during the eight-hour window.

Truck drivers who maximize their weekly work hours will be required 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 work week by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty. The final rule allows drivers to use the restart provision only once during a seven-day period.

In addition, truck drivers cannot drive after working eight hours without first taking a break of at least 30 minutes. Drivers can take the 30-minute break whenever they need rest during the eight-hour window.

Truck drivers who maximize their weekly work hours will be required 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 work week by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty. The final rule allows drivers to use the restart provision only once during a seven-day period.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the rule is intended to prevent fatigue-related truck crashes.

The HOS rulemaking process included six stakeholder sessions held in various parts of the company and offered as a live webcast on the FMCSA website, amounting to what Administrator Anne S. Ferro called "the most extensive and transparent public outreach effort in our agency's history."
 

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