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New HOS Regs now in effect for truck drivers

Written by Steve Gursten Posted July 24th, 2013

FMCSA Hours of Service rules now require 70 hours for trucker work week

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has unrolled new truck driver hours that took effect on July 1, 2013.

The updated hours of service (HOS) reduce the work week to 70 hours, with the goal of helping truck drivers get the rest they need to drive safely.  Safety experts believe that many preventable commercial motor carrier crashes are caused by inadequate rest, and that driver fatigue behind the wheel is a major cause for far too many truck accidents.

Here’s the new final rule on truck driver hours:

  • The maximum average work week for truck drivers is limited to 70 hours, which is a decrease from the current 82-hour max.
  • Truck drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving within a week are allowed to resume driving if they rest for 34 consecutive hours. The 34-hour rest period includes at least two nights of sleep from 1-5 a.m., when their internal clock demands sleep the most.
  • Truckers are required to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.
  • The current 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour work day has been retained.

For more information, you can read a summary of hours of service regulations from the FMCSA.

How many people are killed by tired truckers?

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

And research shows the risk of a truck accidents increases twofold after eight consecutive hours of driving. In addition, truck driver fatigue is the top contributing factor in truck driver deaths from truck wrecks.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said safety and preventing truck driver fatigue is the FMCSA’s biggest priority, in a recent press release from the FMCSA. The FMSCA estimates that these new safety regulations will save 19 lives and prevent approximately 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries each year.

Reducing the number of hours truck drivers can drive on the road is always a positive. But in this case, the FMSCA needs to further reduce the hours of service. As stated above, the risk of a truck crash increases two-fold after 11 hours on the road. This 11-hour limit must be reduced as well. Requiring truckers to take more rest breaks would also help combat truck driver fatigue.

Related information:

How fatigued driving affects truck drivers

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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