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New hours of service rules for truck drivers

July 20, 2013 by Steven M. Gursten

In HOS rule changes for 2013, FMCSA reduces work week to 70 hours to fight truck driver fatigue


Truck driver fatigue is associated with many preventable truck accidents.  And with reducing truck driver fatigue as the goal, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has unrolled new hours of service (HOS) regulations for truck drivers. These HOS rule changes for 2013 are estimated to save lives and reduce the number of preventable crashes where fatigue plays either a direct or indirect cause.

The HOS rules reduce and limit the average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours, to help truck drivers get the rest they require to drive safely.

Here is the FMCSA’s new hours of service final rule for truck drivers:

  • Limits the maximum average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours, a decrease from the current maximum of 82 hours.
  • Allows truck drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving within a week to resume if they rest for 34 consecutive hours. This includes at least two nights when their body clock demands sleep the most – from 1-5 a.m.
  • Requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.

The final rule retains the current 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour work day.

The new rule took effect July 1, 2013.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said safety is the FMCSA’s biggest priority, in a recent press release from the FMCSA:

“These rules make common sense, data-driven changes to reduce truck driver fatigue and improve safety for every traveler on our highways and roads.”

Truck accidents from fatigue by the numbers

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimates truck driver fatigue is a factor in at least 30 percent of truck crashes, according to an Associated Press article, “Fatigue cited in Okla. crash that killed 10.”

Research shows the risk of a truck wreck increases twofold after eight hours of consecutive driving. And truck driver fatigue is the leading contributing factor in trucker deaths from crashes.

As a truck accident attorney who handles serious wreck cases both in Michigan and nationally, I’m glad to see the government is stepping in and reducing the number of hours truck drivers can stay on the road. This will help prevent crashes, injuries and deaths due to tired truckers.

For instance, the FMSCA estimates that these new safety regulations will save 19 lives and prevent approximately 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries each year.

Still, I believe reducing the hours of service further, and requiring more rest brakes would be more beneficial in fighting truck driver fatigue.

For more information, here’s a summary of hours of service regulations from the FMCSA.

Related information:

How Jason’s law is making roads safer for truckers by adding rest stations

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