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The Day Has Come, New HOS Rules In Full Effect

by Jana Ritter - Published: 7/01/2013

After much controversy, arguing and industry anticipation, Monday July 1st, 2013, marks the first official day of the new federal hours-of-service rules for truck drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration marked the changes with a public announcement. “Safety is our highest priority,” outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “These rules make common sense, data-driven changes to reduce truck driver fatigue and improve safety for every traveler on our highways and roads.”

Hos rules

First announced in December 2011 by FMCSA, the rules limit the average workweek for truck drivers to 70 hours to ensure that all truck operators have adequate rest. While the trucking industry has been arguing against changes with the negative impact it will have on business, the FMSCA says that only the most extreme schedules will be affected and that the more than 85% of the truck driving workforce will see no changes. FMCSA also estimated that these new safety regulations would save 19 lives and prevent about 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries each year. 

“These fatigue-fighting rules for truck drivers were carefully crafted based on years of scientific research and unprecedented stakeholder outreach,” FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said. “The result is a fair and balanced approach that will result in an estimated $280 million in savings from fewer large truck crashes and $470 million in savings from improved driver health.  Most importantly, it will save lives,” Ferro said in a statement.

The new HOS rules are as follows:

 - Limits the maximum average workweek 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, including at least two nights when their body clock demands sleep the most - from 1 a.m. -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 workday.

Trucking companies and passenger carriers that allow drivers to exceed limits by more than three hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.

While safety groups say that the regulations don't go far enough to deal with driver fatigue, trucking industry leaders are warning that fewer hours on the road will mean higher prices for consumers. Truck drivers themselves are fighting against the new rules and according to NBC News, nobody in the industry is happy with the changes.