Tomorrow, July 1, 2013, marks the compliance date of the The Hours of Service of Drivers Final Rule from The Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The final rule was published in the Federal Register on December 27, 2011, and became effective February 27, 2012. Tomorrow marks the day that commercial motor vehicle operators need to be fully complying with the new regulations.
The goal of this rulemaking is to reduce excessively long work hours that increase both the risk of fatigue-related crashes and long-term health problems for drivers of large commercial over the road vehicles, such as semis, tractor trailers, and other large commercial motor vehicles. It will most effect long-haul truckload drivers who work more than 70 hours a week on a continuing basis. It was based on the latest research on driver fatigue.
The new final rule has reduced by twelve, the number of hours that a truck driver can work within a week. Previously, over the road operators could work up to eighty-two hours on average within a seven day period. They are now limited to seventy.
Additionally, drivers cannot drive more than eight hours without taking at least a thirty minute break and can take the break at anytime within the eight-hour window.
The new rule limits the “34-hour” restart”, which allows truckers to restart their “week” with a 34 period off duty, to once a week (168 hours). The concern was that working long daily and weekly hours on a continuing basis is associated with chronic fatigue, a high risk of accidents and a number of chronic health conditions suffered by the drivers.
The current eleven-hour daily driving limit remains unchanged at this time.
Companies and drivers that commit violations of the rule could face the maximum penalties for each offense. Trucking companies that allow drivers to exceed the 11-hour driving limit by 3 or more hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.