Motoring|

Maximum Truck Driver Hours Reduced

Freight TruckThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has released the final changes to the US hours-of-service regulations for freight truck drivers. The daily driving time of 11 hours has been changed, but the maximum number of hours that a driver can work in a week has been reduced to 70 – a 12 hour difference. This will be done by restricting drivers to one 34-hour restart every seven days. They are also requiring that drivers who max out their weekly work allowances take at least two nights of rest between 1am and 5am every week. Additionally, drivers will be required to take a 30-minute break after driving for eight hours straight.

FMCSA administrator Anne Ferro says that this final rule is the result of the most transparent and extensive public outreach effort in the agency’s history. With strong input from all parts of the trucking community and the latest scientific research, they carefully created rules that recognise roadways are safer when truckers are focused, rested and alert. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood added that trucking is a hard job, and a big rig can be fatal when a driver is overworked and tired. This final rules will help avoid fatigue-related truck accidents and save lives. Drivers deserve a work environment that allows them to safely perform their duties.

Despite it being announced that the rule is final, the Truckload Carriers Association and American Trucking Associations have had lawyers ready to challenge any changes that weren’t in favour of the industry. However, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) responded to the rule first, calling it a one-size-fits-all approach that won’t improve road safety. Vice president Todd Spencer said that the changes are collectively dramatic on the lives and livelihoods of drivers for small businesses. They are unwelcome and unnecessary.

The OOIDA had hoped that the changes would give truckers more flexibility. Spencer says it’s already a challenge to comply with any regulation, as everyone else in the supply chain is free to waste time loading or unloading without even considering the driver. The hours-of-service regulations need to be more flexible to allow drivers to sleep when tired and work when rested, rather than penalise them for doing so. This is the only way to reduce non-compliance and improve road safety.

The association also pointed out that the regulations will negatively impact productivity and the earning potential of truck owners/operators and drivers. The FMCSA noted that the changes are due to cost the industry about $470 million, while benefits are due to total $630 million. Spencer says that, despite the fact that the industry has never been safer, big businesses and federal regulators continue pushing for mandates that hurt small businesses in the industry. Fatigue is only a factor in 1.4% of deadly crashes involving truckers, according to the latest data, he added.

 

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