The day many drivers have been dreading has come. Today, the FMCSA’s new HOS regulations went into effect. According to a press release from the FMCSA, the agency feels the new restrictions were “designed to improve safety for the motoring public by reducing truck driver fatigue.”
“Safety is our highest priority,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “These rules make common sense, data-driven changes to reduce truck driver fatigue and improve safety for every traveler on our highways and roads.”
The rule was announced in December 2011 and carriers have had 18 months to prepare for the change, but many drivers still have questions.
The new rule will reduce the hours a driver works each week to 70 hours. “Working long daily and weekly hours on a continuing basis is associated with chronic fatigue, a high risk of crashes, and a number of serious chronic health conditions in drivers. It is estimated that these new safety regulations will save 19 lives and prevent approximately 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries each year,” the FMCSA stated.
“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,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro
FMCSA‘s new hours-of-service final rule:
- 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, including at least two nights when their body clock demands sleep the most – from 1-5 a.m., and;
- 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.
Companies whose drivers are found to be in violation of the new HOS requirements by three or more hours will face an $11,000 fine. Companies and drivers that commit egregious violations of the rule could face the maximum penalties for each offense, and the drivers themselves will face a fine of up to $2,750 for each offense.
- Drivers must take a 30 minute rest break within the first 8 hours of coming on duty. If drivers take his rest break too early into their day, they may have to take second break.
- It would be best for the driver to take this break about 6 to 7 hours into his or her day to prevent having to take the second break.
- 34-Hour restart could result in some challenges that will impact operations.
- A driver utilizing the 34-hour restart must have two a.m. breaks from the hours of 1:00 a.m. though 5:00 a.m.
- Only restart once a week or every 168 hours.
On June 27, 2013, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance issued a memo to its members clarifying how the out-of-service criteria would be impacted by the changes to the hours of service rules that take effect on July 1.
The memo confirms that drivers may be placed OOS for 60 or 70-hour violations when such violations result from a non-qualifying restart (e.g., did not include two nighttime periods from 1 – 5 a.m. or began within 168 hours of the beginning of the prior restart).
However, drivers will not be placed out-of-service when discovered to have violated the new 30-minute rest break requirement. Such violations may be noted on the roadside inspection report, but will not result in the driver being placed out-of-service. [Note: Although not a uniform approach, CVSA has indicated that drivers found in violation may be required by some States to cease operating and immediately take a 30 minute break. However, this scenario will not result in an official out-of-service order affecting the carrier’s safety records.]
Also, CVSA’s position on rest break violations is subject to change as the organization is due to revisit the issue at its upcoming Annual Conference in September.