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Trucking Regulations: Hours of Service

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A new rule recently finalized by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will amend the hours-of-service safety regulations that govern how long commercial truck drivers can work within given time frames.

The newly revised regulations, scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2013, aim to aid truckers by helping to ensure they receive the proper amount of rest required to operate their vehicles safely and efficiently on the road. Officials with the FMCSA, an office under the control of the U.S. Department of Transportation, stated they relied on scientific research on driver fatigue in developing the rule.

The current daily driving limit of 11 hours for commercial truck drivers will remain intact under the new rule. Officials with the FMCSA have announced that they will continue to do research and analyze data linked to the 11-hour driving limit and any risks involved with that amount of time on the road.

Under the newly adopted hours-of-service regulations, a commercial truck driver’s seven-day work week will be limited to a maximum of 70 hours. The old regulations permitted truck drivers to work as many as 82 hours during a seven-day work week.

Another provision of the new rule states that truck drivers are allowed to work no longer than eight hours unless they first take a rest period of no less than 30 minutes. Drivers are permitted to have that half-hour break at any time during that eight-hour span.

A significant part of the new rule allows commercial truck drivers to take advantage of the so-called “34-hour restart provision.” This provision permits drivers to restart the count on their official work week by going off duty for at least 34 hours in a row. Drivers may utilize the 34-hour restart provision a maximum of one time in any seven-day stretch. The new rule also mandates that drivers who are “maxing out” the number of their hours on duty must have at least two nights worth of rest from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. This part of the rule aims to help drivers regulate their 24-hour body cycle.

Trucking firms that disregard the new rule could face fines of as much as $11,000. Individual drivers who break the rule could face a fine of $2,750 per offense.

Administrators with the FMCSA believe the new regulations will make the roads safer by helping commercial truck drivers remain rested, focused and alert.